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The Paradox of Legitimacy: Resilience, Successes and the Multiple Identities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey


The Paradox of Legitimacy: Resilience, Successes and the Multiple Identities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey

Abstract: 

Legitimacy is widely recognized as necessary for the resilience and success of revolutionary groups, yet successful revolutionary groups are frequently viewed as illegitimate during the course of conflicts. I examine this paradox through the case of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. Combining historical research with analysis of the discourse used by the group to frame their goals and to cultivate expectations among constituents, I detail how the PKK took advantage of the benefits of legitimacy from various audiences over time until the associated expectations became unwanted constraints. I show how multiple shifting sources of legitimacy allowed the PKK to be perceived as illegitimate by various audiences without compromising their capacity for resilience and success as they retained support within a broadly legitimated movement for Kurdish rights in Turkey. This research offers broad new insights into the cumulative effects of multiple sources of legitimacy, the relationality of legitimacy, and the benefits of illegitimacy.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Schoon, Eric W. 2015. "The Paradox of Legitimacy: Resilience, Successes and the Multiple Identities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey." Social Problems (May): 1-20. http://socpro.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/05/02/socpro.spv006

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