Consent and Legitimacy: A Revised Bellicose Theory of State-Building with Evidence from around the World, 1500–2000

Recorded on March 9, 2023, this video features Andreas Wimmer, Lieber Professor of Sociology and Political Philosophy at Columbia University, presenting a talk entitled “Consent and Legitimacy: A Revised Bellicose Theory of State-Building with Evidence from around the World, 1500–2000.”

The talk was presented at Social Science Matrix, and was co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Institute of European Studies, the Center for Jewish Studies, the France-Berkeley Fund, and the Department of Slavic Studies & Literature. A paper related to the talk can be found at https://bit.ly/3xYa5np.


This research builds on the large literature that discusses if frequent international wars enhance state-building, as famously argued by Charles Tilly. It integrates key insights of that literature and a series of additional arguments into a more comprehensive and systematic model of bargaining between rulers and ruled. The model specifies the conditions under which wars are likely to build states: if there are political institutions enabling such bargaining and expressing the consent of the ruled, if the population contributed substantially to the war efforts by providing soldiers and taxes, and if rulers are legitimized either through nationalism or success at war. The paper expands the empirical horizon of existing quantitative research by assembling two measures of state development, ranging from the early modern period to the present.

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