Review of 'Chris Thornhill: A Sociology of Constitutions. Constitutions and State Legitimacy in Historical-Sociological Perspective' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011)

European Journal of Social Theory November 2012 15 (4) 571-575

5 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2015

Date Written: February 1, 2012

Abstract

This is an extremely ambitious book. Its point of departure is that the study of the origins, status and functions of constitutions was a central element of early sociology. It is argued that classical sociological scholars such as Tönnies, Durkheim and Weber initiated a break with the normative ideals of the Enlightenment and established the defining features of a positive-descriptive political sociology through the study of constitutions. The strong centrality of the study of constitutions in political sociology, however, drastically declined in the post-war period. Instead, constitutional theory and practice became dominated by formalist-normative approaches developed within the realm of legal and political philosophy. The book is aimed at turning this development around by introducing a fully-fledged empirically founded, essentially positivist, sociological theory of constitutions capable of re-establishing constitutional sociology as a specific sub-discipline within law, politics and sociology.

Keywords: Legal History; Legal Theory; Law; Constitutional Theory; European States; Historical Sociology; Constitutions; Constitutional Sociology; Sociology; Socio-legal Studies; Europe; Comparative Law; Systems Theory; Constitutionalisation

Suggested Citation

Kjaer, Poul F., Review of 'Chris Thornhill: A Sociology of Constitutions. Constitutions and State Legitimacy in Historical-Sociological Perspective' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011) (February 1, 2012). European Journal of Social Theory November 2012 15 (4) 571-575. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2569388

Poul F. Kjaer (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

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