Citizens’ perceptions and the legitimacy of constitutions and governmental institutions

Constitutional academic debates have highlighted the relevance of elements such as the gap between citizens’ perceptions and understandings and the bureaucratic and technical aspects of constitutional law and policy making, together with unhappiness, lack of representativeness, and lack of trust amongst others. Based on the experience of empirical work in Latin America under the Foundations of Institutional AuThority (FIAT) Project, this presentation focuses on the challenges to access understandings of power, together with notions of legitimacy and authority that underlie citizens’ interactions with ruling institutions. As such, the presentation offers some inputs to consider in the design and practice of constitutional research, particularly in terms of including voices that are usually left aside. It also offers insights regarding how the general population talks about constitutions, governments, and the legislative and judiciary branches.