Facilitate People’s Networks As a Basis for New State Legitimacy

Saturday, 21 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Michiya KAWAMURA, Osaka University, Japan
The maintenance of a state’s legitimacy depends on whether it can keep satisfying people’s legitimate demands. In the aftermath of WWII people regarded as legitimate the desire for full employment and various social benefits, followed since the 1980s by the pursuit of wealth through a deregulated market. Question is what are the legitimate demands in the Trumpist and post-Brexit world?

Supporters of populism insist that the state should exclude irregular members of society and provide job protection and income redistribution only to citizens. However, the desire to limit immigration cannot be legitimate because it would injure the government’s legitimacy as a protector of human rights and would actually not relieve the supporter’s concerns. The real cause of their anxieties is that their jobs are increasingly substituted for cheap and standardized ones. A solution would be to make their jobs less substitutable by situating them in more diverse, creative and meaningful social contexts in which unique skills and knowledge are valued. Immigrants should also be included in these social networks because problems they allegedly pose and that populists detest are often caused by their social isolation. In the end, both populists and immigrants have a similar desire of being included in diverse and meaningful social networks.

This network desire has been regarded as a favorable but not central one that states must meet to maintain their legitimacy, because welfare regimes and labor unions based on strict membership protected people’s lives. However, membership has decreased and therefore states have to focus more on supporting open networks. People, regardless of nationality, should have equal opportunity to pursue meaningful life in social networks. States should promote public endorsement for this ideal by strengthening support for people's networks and showing that this benefits all of them.