Legitimacy, the liberal-democratic state and indigenous peoples : a comparative analysis of the challenge upon state legitimacy by the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Canada

Type of content
Theses / Dissertations
Publisher's DOI/URI
Thesis discipline
Political Science
Degree name
Master of Arts
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
McDermott, Michael

The intention of this thesis is to illustrate that there are indirect processes in place within the liberal-democratic state system, in countries like New Zealand and Canada, that serve to maintain and justify its right to make decisions, regarding the allocation of power and resources within society. When the right of the liberal-democratic state to make these decisions is challenged, these processes help to channel these challenges away from its foundations. This ensures that while the shape of the state may well alter as a result, the belief system at the core of the state remains uncompromised. An example of such a challenge is the change in governments in New Zealand since 1972, each with different ideological ideas about how to implement economic reforms. The capacity of the electoral system to limit the impact of such governments by providing the 'people' with the choice of electing a new government every three years, means that the system has what Beetham refers to as a, "in-built self-correction when the movement in one direction tends to get out of hand" (Beetham 1991 p170). While reforms, such as the devolution program of the 1984 Labour Government may alter the role of the liberal-democratic state in relation to the public good, the belief system at the heart of the state remains unaltered; the idea of popular sovereignty for example. Additionally, this thesis argues that these indirect processes ensure that the belief system of liberal-democracy remains the primary belief system in such societies, in terms of its ability to structure the way in which resources and power are allocated. For example by promoting the capitalist economic system with its emphasis upon individualism.

Legitimacy of governments--New Zealand, Legitimacy of governments--Canada, Indigenous peoples--New Zealand, Indigenous peoples--Canada
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
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