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On late modernity and social statehood

Populism, neoliberalism, and globalisation are just three of the many terms used to analyse the challenges facing democracies around the world. Critical Theory and Sociological Theory examines those challenges by investigating how the conditions of democratic statehood have been altered at several key historical intervals since 1945. The author explains why the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood, such as elections, have always been complemented by civic, cultural, educational, socio-economic, and, perhaps most importantly, constitutional institutions mediating between citizens and state authority. Critical theory is rearticulated with a contemporary focus in order to show how the mediations between citizens and statehood are once again rapidly changing. The book looks at the ways in which modern societies have developed mixed constitutions in several senses that go beyond the official separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. In addition to that separation, one also witnesses a complex set of conflicts, agreements, and precarious compromises that are not adequately defined by the existing conceptual vocabulary on the subject. Darrow Schecter shows why a sociological approach to critical theory is urgently needed to address prevailing conceptual deficits and to explain how the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood need to be complemented and updated in new ways today.

Looming constitutional conflicts between the de-centralist logic of functional diff erentiation and the bio-political steering of austerity and global governance

3 Functional differentiation and mediated unity in question: looming constitutional conflicts between the de-​centralist logic of functional differentiation and the bio-​political steering of austerity and global governance It has been seen so far that the theoretical premises informing prevailing accounts of modern statehood and political representation have become susceptible to comprehensive critique and deconstruction. This is not to argue that states no longer exist or have ceased to be important actors in domestic and international politics. In many parts

in Critical theory and sociological theory
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Democratic state, capitalist society, or dysfunctional differentiation?

-​1945 order in Europe and beyond have been overhauled by the unrelenting austerity measures and dogmatically quantitative metrics of growth imposed by neoliberalism. There is no going back to the Renaissance republics, the commercial societies of early industrialisation, or the collective bargaining arrangements of corporatist Fordism. There is nonetheless a link between a factual analysis of mutually balancing social forces, FD, and mixed constitutions, on the one hand, and the evidence that ruling ideas and pervasive domination can be reformed into a continual

in Critical theory and sociological theory
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. Rights require a certain level of abstraction in order to be inclusive and effective in terms of normative integration, lest they depend on privately negotiated deals and favours for their implementation. In this case abstraction is by no means synonymous with a priori disembodiment, and indeed, rights provide a tangible example of what is both concrete and conceptual about distinct forms of statehood. This becomes evident when social and economic rights are curtailed, as in times of austerity. Social and economic welfare rights in matters of childcare, housing

in Critical theory and sociological theory
On social systems and societal constitutions

Macron plans to reform the French Code du Travail and thereby avert a scenario in which the Troika impose austerity on France. The catch is that he and his team seem ready to take on that job by themselves, with major implications for workers’ rights.13 If it is true that states and governments tend towards negligence and corruption if they attempt to be too strong in the sense used above, social constitutionalism and social statehood signal new directions in thinking about alternatives. These are needed in order to push the relevant debates beyond the impoverished

in Critical theory and sociological theory
On the sociological paradoxes of weak dialectical formalism and embedded neoliberalism

society that may seem politically suspect, or at any rate conservative. There is nonetheless a crucial difference between first- and even second-​generation critical theory, on the one hand, and neoliberal apologies for austerity, privatisation, and extensive outsourcing today, on the other. Ostensibly, critical theory and neoliberalism are wary of strong dialectical modes of legitimacy, positive conceptions of liberty, and all instances of collective subjectivity that appear to foster oppressive inclusion rather than consensual integration. It would seem that both

in Critical theory and sociological theory
On the relation between law, politics, and other social systems in modern societies

ambiguous one marked by inconsistencies and countervailing tendencies that amalgamate austerity and extravagance with frugality and waste.13 Its obscurities are complicated further by the presence of simultaneously overlapping and hybrid legal orders that synthesise diverse aspects of public, private, international, administrative, transnational, and other kinds of law.14 It is moreover a model in which anti-​ hierarchical and de-​ centralised republican tendencies compete with a marked proclivity, inherited from past practice dating back to Roman Law and Canonical Law

in Critical theory and sociological theory
On mediated unity and overarching legal-political form

understood and instituted. It might be possible to endow social systems with partial constitutions enabling them better to co-​ordinate their respective operations.29 48 Critical theory and sociological theory This kind of de-​centralised planning would surely yield a model of differenti­ ation that is qualitatively distinct from the current ones promulgated through austerity, imposed as privatisation, and defended on the grounds that ‘there is no alternative’. These policies are patently not conducive to investment, growth, political stability, or efficient use of

in Critical theory and sociological theory

find the necessities and satisfaction of life that they don’t want to leave it’ (III: 904). For in addition to preventing luxury this system would also ensure that ‘the whole world lives and nobody enriches himself’ (904). It has been argued that all of Rousseau’s subsequent ideas were contained in On Political Economy. One might equally argue that all his mature thoughts reached their zenith in Projet du Corse, where he combined his Spartan romance for rural austerity, a concern for the poor, a realist understanding of international relations – and an understanding

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Melancholic dispositions and conscious unhappiness

/​Songs-​to-​make-​ you-​happy-​compiled-​by-​the-​United-​Nations.html. 3 www.actionforhappiness.org. 4 In doing so, the UK is attempting to follow in the footsteps of Bhutan, which has an official Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, whose principles otherwise stand in stark contrast to those of the UK, based as they are on equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment, and the promotion of good governance. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a government committed to brutal austerity economics can at the same time promote a

in Critical theory and feeling