Hacking Weber: legitimacy, critique, and trust in peer production

Mathieu O'Neil*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    This article examines the acceptance of control in anti-authoritarian environments. It argues that the use of the Weberian notion of legitimate domination or authority is appropriate in the context of collaborative online projects. The central argument is that legitimacy in collaborative projects constitutes itself in response to critique. In the realm of knowledge, the critique of external expertise forms the basis for the individualized, charismatic authority of founders who know the project inside out. In the realm of justice, the critique of opaque deliberations and decisions forms the basis for the collective, procedural authority of administrators who implement community decisions. These critiques can be generalized, challenging the social order, but their effectiveness is conditioned by how much is known about the identity of participants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)872-888
    Number of pages17
    JournalInformation Communication and Society
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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