HyperNormalisation and Delegitimisation

3 months ago

The word hypernormalisation was coined by Alexei Yurchak, a professor of anthropology who was born in Leningrad and later went to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. He introduced the word in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (2006), which describes paradoxes of Soviet life during the 1970s and 1980s. He says that everyone in the Soviet Union knew the system was failing, but no one could imagine an alternative to the status quo, and politicians and citizens alike were resigned to maintaining the pretense of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the fakeness was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed hypernormalisation.


Delegitimisation (also spelled delegitimation) is the withdrawal of legitimacy, usually from some institution such as a state, cultural practice, etc. which may have acquired it explicitly or implicitly, by statute or accepted practice. It is a sociopsychological process which undermines or marginalises an entity by presenting facts and/or value judgments that are construed to withdraw legitimacy and can in some cases be a self-justifying mechanism, with the ultimate goal of justifying harm of an outgroup.

The concept applies to a wide spectrum of social contexts ranging from disputes about political entities to chronic illnesses.


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