A Sociology of Constitutions: Constitutions and State by Chris Thornhill

By Chris Thornhill

Utilizing a technique that either analyzes specific constitutional texts and theories and reconstructs their old evolution, Chris Thornhill examines the social position and legitimating prestige of constitutions from the 1st quasi-constitutional records of medieval Europe, during the classical interval of progressive constitutionalism, to fresh approaches of constitutional transition. A Sociology of Constitutions explores the explanations why glossy societies require constitutions and constitutional norms and provides a particular socio-normative research of the constitutional preconditions of political legitimacy.

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Most importantly, it culminated in the legal ord er in the church 29 codification of Gratian’s Decretum, which appeared towards the middle of the twelfth century, and, finally, in the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, where a more uniform set of laws and judicial procedures was established for the church as a whole. In this respect, as above, it needs to be noted that this codification of ecclesiastical law was not fully separate from secular law, and it did not constitute an unrestricted endorsement of papal monarchy.

The central manifest issue in these conflicts was a controversy over the degree to which temporal rulers were authorized to anoint their own bishops and whether the dispensing of church offices fell under temporal authority. More generally, however, these contests centred around the legal question of whether representatives of the church were beholden to regents in whose territories they operated, and they raised the question, which had vital status in a period of rising functional specialization, whether ecclesiastical laws could prevail over local legislation and transcend the jurisdiction of particular regents.

In its entirety, the book can be interpreted, not only as a historical-functional sociology of constitutions, but also as a historical-functional sociology of legal/political norms, which intends to analyse norms as objective institutions that are generated by innersocietal dynamics and functionally formative evolutionary processes. It is in its approach to the normative fabric of modern society that the most controversial methodological aspect of this book becomes visible. Underlying the conception of the book, namely, is a theory of political power that positions itself in strict opposition to more widely established constructions of power and its social status.

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