Popular Authority

… a core concept used in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Concept description

Grace Skogstad (reference below) describes popular authority as operating “from the premise that authority resides with the people” and that “models of popular authority legitimize decision making by providing for direct public input and deliberation in the decision-making process.”

Skogstad notes that:

“The model of popular authority has an awkward fit with Canada’s constitutional framework.”

“… However, conceptions of popular authority have become more woven into the rhetoric and practice of Canadian governing over the past decade. Writing in the late 1990s, Leslie A. Pal (1997: 57) observed that governments consult much more now before they make a move and act in much closer contact with client groups than they did before. Citizen access to and participation in policy making is now viewed in many quarters as an important basis of input legitimacy, even while ideas about the form popular participation should take vary enormously.” (pages 962-63)

See Skogstad’s Four Competing Models of Authority.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Policy Instruments and Design (core topic) in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101 Policy Analysis and Process.


Grace Skogstad (2003), “Who Governs? Who Should Govern? Political Authority and Legitimacy in Canada in the Twenty-First Century.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 36(5): 955-974.

Leslie Pal (1997), Beyond Policy Analysis. Toronto: International Thomson Publishing.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 4 September 2018.

Image: Klaus Jurgens, Daily Sabah, at https://www.dailysabah.com/op-ed/2018/09/03/chicken-egg-question-does-populism-create-prejudice-or-vice-versa, accessed 4 September 2018.