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Through an examination of criminal law, nationality law, and administrative regulations and policies, Law in the Service of Legitimacy demonstrates how the state uses the legal system as a legitimation tool, incorporating traditional social practices in order to maintain the support of certain elements of society while at the same time taking measures that counter traditional practices and extend new rights and roles to women. Not only does this widen the regime's appeal to various audiences, but it allows the state to mobilize either rationale--protecting tradition or developing democracy--in support of its policy objectives. This is one of the key reasons for the stability of the Jordanian regime, as well as one of the chief factors explaining the character and pace of Jordanian democratization, or the lack thereof.
Using gender and law in the political system of Jordan as a means of investigating broader issues of the relationship between culture and political legitimacy, author Catherine Warrick offers an in-depth treatment of laws that define, limit and expand women's rights, and links the study of women's rights to broad political questions while focusing on law as a full and functioning part of the political system. She argues that gender issues aren't simply a "special topic" in politics, but an indicator and symbol of the character of the political system as a whole. Thus the significance of the politics of legitimacy as played out in issues of gender and law is not only about the content of policies and competition of interests, but about the power to determine the nature of the political system itself.