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
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
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