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Weber’s ideas about legitimate rule also appear in his Basic Concepts in Sociology and The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. The translation of the German word Herrschaft is at the heart of understanding Weber’s point about political legitimacy. According to Weber, beliefs in the legitimacy of a political system go beyond philosophy and they directly contribute to the state system stability and authority. Legal authority is based on a system of rules that is applied administratively and judicially in accordance with known principles. The persons who administer those rules are appointed or elected by legal procedures. Superiors are also subject to rules that limit their powers, separate their private lives from official duties and require written documentation. Traditional authority is based on a system in which authority is legitimate because it “has always existed”.
People in power usually enjoy it because they have inherited it. Charismatic authority is based on the charisma of the leader, who shows that he possesses the right to lead by virtue of magical powers, prophecies, heroism, etc. The types of authority change over time, when the ruled are no longer satisfied with the system. For example, after the death of a charismatic leader his followers, if they lack the charisma of their predecessor, will try to institute a system based on tradition or law. Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters, Weber’s Rationalism and Modern Society, Palgrave Books 2015, pp. Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber: an intellectual portrait, University of California Press, 1977, p.