|This working paper first outlines the contours of a discourse analytical approach to the study of legitimation processes and then presents findings from a quantitative analysis of legitimacy-related communication in selected print media of the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States in 2004. Our data suggest considerable differences between the three countries with regard to levels of (de)legitimation, privileged legitimation resources, and legitimation styles. The micro dynamics of legitimation processes in 2004 were characterised by nationally specific legitimation attention cycles. References to internationalisation and deparliamentarisation – two trends that are often held responsible for a severe legitimacy crisis of the nation state and representative democracy – play no more than a marginal role in legitimacy discourses. We conclude that evidence for a pervasive and full-fledged erosion of the nation state's legitimacy – or a uniform shift from input to output legitimation – is scant.
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