The Sociology of Constitutions

1. 3. 2018
v 16:00 hodin, zasedací místnost 207, Jilská 1, Praha 1

Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., a katedra sociologie Institutu sociologických studií FSV UK si Vás dovolují pozvat na jarní cyklus Čtvrtečních sociologických seminářů.

In recent years, constitutions are increasingly studied from a sociological perspective. Constitutions have become a globally accepted way of grounding societies, of socio-politically organizing (democratic) states, and of legitimizing power. But while the constitutional form has increasingly become the main way of organizing national societies, constitutional orders are increasingly affected by forms of constitutionalization both within and beyond the nation-state. As such, it is possible to identify both an increasing tendency towards universalistic approaches to a decontextualized, rights-based constitutionalism and an increasing contestation of such approaches.

Here, I propose a political sociology of constitutions, which stresses the idea that constitutions consist of particular forms of legitimating power, but also claims that justifications for power through constitutions are articulated in a variety of ways, and are susceptible to change over time. This also means that legitimation through constitutionalism is always open to contestation by a plurality of constitutionally relevant agents (legal, political and societal), who contest original norms as well as their interpretation, the unequal access to political power as well as the extension of political power into specific social domains.

Firstly, the presentation will engage with the crucial question of the normative and sociological legitimacy of constitutional orders, and I will outline a constitutional sociology able to focus on the normative in the sociological. Second, I will suggest the need for an analysis of a plurality of relevant constitutional subjects or agents. Third, I will discuss domestic constitutional orders in terms of constitutional identity and the availability of a plurality of justifications for constitutionalism, to link this, fourth, with the idea that constitutional orders are subject to continuous conflict over their meaning. Finally, I will briefly set out a distinctive political-sociological understanding of constitutions.

Paul Blokker is associate professor in Sociology, Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Sociology, and programme director of the MA programme Sociology in European Context, at the Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University, Prague. He also teaches European integration at Syracuse University in Florence. Among recent publications are Sociological Constitutionalism, edited with Chris Thornhill, Cambridge University Press, and Constitutional Acceleration within the European Union and Beyond, edited volume, Routledge.