Legitimation or legitimization is the act of providing legitimacy. Legitimation in the social sciences refers to the process whereby an act, process, or ideology becomes legitimate by its attachment to norms and values within a given society. It is the process of making something acceptable and normative to a group or audience.
Legitimate power is the right to exercise control over others by virtue of the authority of one's superior organization position or status.
For example, the legitimation of power can be understood using Max Weber's traditional bases of power. In a bureaucracy, people gain legitimate use of power by their positions in which it is widely agreed that the specified person hold authority . There is no inherent right to wield power. For example, a president can exercise power and authority because the position is fully legitimated by society as a whole. In another example, if an individual attempts to convince others that something is "right," they can invoke generally accepted arguments that support their agenda. Advocacy groups must legitimate their courses of action based on invoking specific social norms and values. Invoking these norms and values allows the group to proceed in a rational and coherent manner with the expectation that their subsequent behavior is legitimated by the norms and values which guide their organizations.
Legitimation can also be used as a legal term where a father of a child born out of wedlock becomes the child's legal father. Prior to legitimation, the child is said to be illegitimate. Once a child has been legitimated, he or she is entitled to all of the benefits from that father as he or she would if that man had been married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth. The father is responsible for providing support to the child and the child is entitled to inherit from the father.