A Sociology of Constitutions : Constitutions and State by Chris Thornhill

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By Chris Thornhill

''Using a technique that either analyzes specific constitutional texts and theories and reconstructs their ancient evolution, Chris Thornhill examines the social function and legitimating prestige of constitutions from the 1st quasi-constitutional records of medieval Europe, in the course of the classical interval of innovative constitutionalism, to contemporary tactics of constitutional transition. A Sociology of

''During the emergence of sociology as an instructional self-discipline the query in regards to the origins, prestige and services of constitutions was once broadly posed. certainly, for either thematic and methodological purposes, the research of constitutions used to be a critical point of early sociology. Sociology built, although ambiguously, as a severe highbrow reaction to the theories and achievements of the Enlightenment within the eighteenth century, the political size of which was once centrally taken with the idea and perform of constitutional rule. In its very origins, in truth, sociology will be visible as a counter-movement to the political beliefs of the Enlightenment, which rejected the (alleged) normative deductivism of Enlightenment theorists. during this recognize, specifically, early sociology was once deeply eager about theories of political legitimacy within the Enlightenment, and it translated the innovative research of legitimacy within the Enlightenment, considering the normative declare that singular rights and rationally generalized rules of felony validity have been the constitutional foundation for valid statehood, into an account of legitimacy which saw political orders as acquiring legitimacy via internalistically complicated, traditionally contingent and multi-levelled tactics of criminal formation and societal motivation and team spirit. this isn't to signify that there existed a strict and unbridgeable dichotomy among the Enlightenment, construed as a physique of normative philosophy, and proto-sociological inquiry, outlined as a physique of descriptive interpretation''-- Read more...

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Yet, across methodological divides, the state-building process is still viewed as essentially one bringing about a conflictual convergence of society around a dominant bloc. I have assessed the literature in the classical canon of the historical sociology of states elsewhere (Thornhill: 2008), and I do not wish to repeat these points. Suffice it to say, though, that, in general, the historical-sociological account of the state revolves around the assumption, first promoted by Weber, Hintze and Schumpeter, that European states were formed as groups of actors who arrogated to themselves a monopoly of violence in society, and that the assumption of this monopoly is firmly tied to the need of states to gain fiscal supremacy in order to fund wars.

Indeed, the distinction of political power in relation to other spheres of social exchange is one vital dimension in a modern society’s intensification of the volume of usable power that it contains, and the relative abstraction of power against other social activities is a constitutive structural feature of modern society. For this reason, this book also argues that modern societies are characterized by the fact that they rely on their ability to abstract and utilize political power as a largely autonomous facility, which, in most situations, is clearly distinguished from other patterns of social exchange.

10 At the same time, however, the legal reforms in the church reflected a process in which society as a whole experienced an incremental differentiation into discrete functional spheres, and in which the densely interwoven mass of personal and seigneurial functions and immunities characterizing early feudalism was beginning to disintegrate. The formalization of canon law was also at the centre of this second process: canon law provided a body of terms in which, for the first time, one free-standing institution was able to delineate its functions as internally consistent and relatively indifferent to patterns of exchange and obligation in other social spheres, and to transmit its authority in a functionally unified and specialized manner.

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