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Sanctioned Legitimacy: A secret ingredient of community change

NYN Media | by Marjorie Parker


What is sanctioned legitimacy and why is it the linchpin for community change work?

Sanctioned legitimacy means no institution or person can undertake grassroots work effectively and achieve meaningful results unless they are truly supported by the community. Without that sanction, the work undertaken will not have legitimacy, lasting impact or value.

Ultimately, communities cannot and will not “own” what they have not permitted to take root and blossom.

If you Google the term “sanctioned legitimacy,” you will not find a ready definition on the Internet or in the prevailing literature. I first heard the term in the early 2000s from the results and organizational change guru John La Rocca of the Rensselaerville Institute. I have come to learn in my time at JobsFirstNYC that this principle has actually been a key driver in our work.

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