Constitutions and Democracy in Post-National Times: A Political-Sociological Approach
Irish Journal of Sociology, Special issue on 'Engaging the Cosmopolitan: Contemporary Approaches,' Forthcoming
20 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013 Last revised: 25 Jun 2013
Date Written: December 15, 2012
The modern idea of the constitution is closely tied up with the political form of the nation-state, but the post-national age poses various challenges to this idea, not least due to the emergence of constitutional or quasi-constitutional regimes both beyond and below the nation-state. While a good, and steadily growing, amount of research probes the constitutional dimensions on the international and supranational levels, the domestic dimensions and related transformations, and in particular the implications of constitutional pluralism for meaningful democratic practice, seem, however, less prominent in current debate. I argue that domestic constitutional dynamics and conflict, not least regarding democratic participation, can be fruitfully analysed through the lens of a political-sociological approach to constitutions and constitutionalism. In order to outline such an approach in one specific way, I briefly discuss, firstly, the recent (re-)emergence of constitutional sociology. Secondly, I will situate constitutional sociology within a wider debate on constitutionalism and democracy. Thirdly, I will propose a sociological, ‘historical-functionalist’ approach to the analysis of constitutions, which, I will then, fourthly, relate to a comparative and interpretative political sociology of constitutional discourses and political, legal, and social critique.
Keywords: Constitutionalism, Democracy, Social critique, Socio-functional dimensions, Participation
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