A Theory of Self-Governance: De Facto Constitutions as Filters
Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017 Last revised: 5 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 3, 2018
What is self-governance, and under what sets of institutions is it possible? We explore this question from the perspective of informal (de facto) constitutionalism. The dominant approach, grounded in formal constitutionalism, overlooks crucial institutional features that determine whether governance is something done by individuals to themselves, as opposed to something done by some individuals to others. Understanding self-governance requires not only identifying the durable procedures for public decision-making, but also appreciating how these procedures act as filters, which select for the acquisition of political power by individuals with specific and predictable characteristics. We develop a novel constitutional typology based on the structure of political property rights on the one hand, and the kinds of individuals that govern on the other, and use this typology to discover the types of polities most likely to be self-governing.
Keywords: Democracy, Liberalism, Political Property Rights, Self-Governance
JEL Classification: A12, A14, H11, P00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation