A Sociology of Constitutions

A Sociology of Constitutions : Constitutions and State Legitimacy in Historical-Sociological Perspective

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Using a methodology that both analyzes particular constitutional texts and theories and reconstructs their historical evolution, Chris Thornhill examines the social role and legitimating status of constitutions from the first quasi-constitutional documents of medieval Europe, through the classical period of revolutionary constitutionalism, to recent processes of constitutional transition. A Sociology of Constitutions explores the reasons why modern societies require constitutions and constitutional norms and presents a distinctive socio-normative analysis of the constitutional preconditions of political legitimacy.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 464 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139097970
  • 9781139097970

About Chris Thornhill

Chris Thornhill is Professor of European Political Thought and Head of Politics at the University of Glasgow, where his research focuses both on the relations between legal and political theory and legal and political sociology and on processes of state formation and constitution writing in different European societies.
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Table of contents

1. Medieval constitutions; 2. Constitutions and early modernity; 3. States, rights and the revolutionary form of power; 4. Constitutions from Empire to Fascism; 5. Constitutions and democratic transitions.
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Review quote

'This book discusses in a highly original and sophisticated manner aspects of the makings and workings of constitutions, whose significance (both intellectual and practical) has not been previously recognized. It will establish itself as the cornerstone of a new line of scholarship, complementary to more conventional historical and juridical approaches to constitutional analysis.' Gianfranco Poggi, University of Trento 'This is an important book for those who seek to understand the sociological processes involved in the development of states and their constitutions. It has the great merit of offering considerable detail in support of its thesis and thus ample ammunition to challenge the many alternative theories of the development of the modern state.' Richard Nobles, The Modern Law Review 'Thornhill's book is exceptionally well documented and researched as regards historical facts, legal developments, and the genealogy of major concepts of modern European constitutionalism and state politics ... [An] extremely important socio-legal endeavour ... sociologists of law and constitutionalism now have powerful methodological tools, a sociological conceptual framework, and invaluable sources of the new constitutional imagination.' Jiri Priban, Journal of Law and Society 'Thornhill's work can only be considered truly impressive. It is very rare that one comes across a book which opens up an entirely new field while challenging essentially all existing approaches in such a convincing, elegant and scrupulous manner. Most proponents of alternative positions are likely to find the foundations of their own work seriously challenged, just as the book is likely to dominate the field for many years to come. This makes [it] an absolute must for any serious scholar interested in constitutional sociology and theory. Thornhill has cast a gauntlet which deserves to be picked up.' Poul F. Kjaer, European Journal of Social Theory 'This is an outstanding book that suggests a completely new approach in constitutional theory and research ... [T]he book introduces a new era of progressive research on constitutional evolution and the sociological history of constitutional law. [It] is a paradigm case for further studies.' Hauke Brunkhorst, Public Law 'Chris Thornhill's A Sociology of Constitutions ... provides an uncompromisingly detailed and telling analysis of the structural and conjunctural forces that have shaped constitutional developments in a mainly European context since the Middle Ages. For anyone seriously interested in constitutional history, this book provides an excellent and erudite analysis.' Grahame Thompson, Economy and Society
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