in chapter 7 of david and goliath

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In chapter 7 of David and Goliath, Gladwell talks about the issue of legitimacy in maintaining societal order. He uses the examples of “The Troubles” in Ireland and the J-RIP program in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville. While the experience of the Irish Catholics and the juvenile offenders in Brownsville may not appear to have much in common, Gladwell suggests that they both don’t perceive the local authority (in the Nationalists’/Irish Catholics’ case, the British Army; in the juveniles’ case, the local police force) as legitimate.

Gladwell explains that “…when the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.”

Let’s think about this in terms of some of today’s issues; hopefully as you read this chapter, you were able to think of parallels between the struggles in Ireland and Brooklyn and some current events. Do you see any current problems that are a result of perceived illegitimacy? How can we use Gladwell’s argument about legitimacy to potentially solve some of the problems that plague us today? Do you think police officers and political leaders today are perceived as legitimate? How might this issue of legitimacy be contributing to our current divisiveness? And what can we do to fix it?

Obviously, there are no right or wrong answers — none of us can predict the future. But the best answers will be the ones that demonstrate how a problem of legitimacy can be solved.

And finally: would you have given away those turkeys? Why or why not?

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