Normative concepts analysis: unpacking the language of legitimation

Uriel Abulof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


How should we study the language of political legitimation? Incipient scholarship increasingly seeks to bridge the conceptual schism between the sociological is and the philosophical ought in the study of legitimacy, looking at public legitimating discourses to uncover the actual social attitudes toward prescriptive principles. And while this research agenda has recently gained traction, its methodology remains opaque. This paper suggests that normative concepts, central to the argumentations that hold common basic beliefs and discourse together, can allow us to tap into the language of legitimation. Normative concepts can be traced via mixed methods research, incorporating the quantitative method of corpus linguistics and the qualitative method of discourse-tracing – two techniques that mutually enrich and complement each other. By illuminating changes in the sort, scale, and scope of normative concepts, this mode of inquiry can explicate the language of legitimation and advance our understanding of sociopolitical legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-89
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • corpus linguistics
  • discourse-tracing
  • legitimation
  • normative concepts analysis
  • political discourse
  • public political thought


Dive into the research topics of 'Normative concepts analysis: unpacking the language of legitimation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this