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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.

On social systems and societal constitutions

, either. If the nation state has become too inflexible, hierarchical, and territorially circumscribed to meet global challenges, another practice of statehood will be needed to mediate inter-​systemic operations. At this juncture, it seems clear that the successor model will be called upon to co-​ordinate social systems without fusing them in some kind of unwieldy authoritarian synthesis or instrumentally prising them apart and then re-​suturing them later as part of short-​term governance and electoral strategies. Such measures have been analysed in previous chapters

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

thereby raised about the real authority of elected state legislatures in the twenty-​first century, thus prompting related questions about the best way to understand informal structures of social conflict, political compromise, party policy, and party electoral strategy. Formal and informal structures in this sense help constitute the conditions of statehood within nationally defined territories. National states encounter the dynamic unfolding of FD worldwide, which they help shape and which states in turn are shaped by. There are notable discrepancies between the

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

, a purely descriptive account of the matter from a European or North American standpoint would probably highlight the overall compatibility, rather than Dilemmas of contemporary statehood 139 discrepancy, between political centralisation and social-systemic differentiation, since that is what seems to be the case when one considers how modern nation states appear to function in practice. A very quick return to Kant, Hegel, Marx, Weber, and Simmel may be helpful in disentangling some of these issues. Their writings signal that conceptual formalisation complements

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

battle of ideas and emergent institutions, on the other. It has been shown in previous chapters that contemporary societies are characterised by the difficulties and discoveries inherent in trying to co-​ordinate the operations of discrete social systems functioning according to incommensurate codes, and that some of these difficulties could be remedied to a significant extent in the course of a gradual transition from political to social statehood. It has also been shown that FD produces and also depends on the development of social-systemic autonomy, and that

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

2 Mediated unity in question: on the relation between law, politics, and other social systems in modern societies The discussion in ­chapter  1 shows that two premises are often invoked to articulate the theoretical preconditions of modern democratic statehood. Whilst the mediated unity of the governors and the governed is normally taken to be the basis of rational political representation, overarching legal-​ political form is taken to be the foundation of democratic government and consensual normative integration. The epistemological and sociological critique

in Critical theory and sociological theory
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the rest of this book is the following: how does critical theory help illuminate the contemporary dilemmas of democracy and statehood in this regard, and what is meant by a sociological approach to critical theory? The main question and four central claims Four central claims are defended in the course of the following chapters. The first claim is that it is imprecise to argue in terms of democratic versus non-​ democratic if one does so in abstraction from a detailed consideration of specific political constitutions and the plural processes of social constitution

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

Reconsidering modern democratic statehood 41 proximity and distance between unique human beings and distinct groups of individuals. How would these divisions affect knowledge of society and the construction of normative orders? This became an urgent matter, as developments in science, trade, and industry seemed to indicate that patterns of social structure play a far larger part than supposed ‘natural’ talent in explaining divisions and inequalities. With the passing of feudalism, the normative expectations of relatively large segments of European society underwent a

in Critical theory and sociological theory
The logics of ‘hitting the bottom’

I  Collective addiction? Is there such a thing as collective addiction? Do we recognise addiction as a genuine social phenomenon? What does it mean to speak of the addictive society? The usual answer would be binge drinking or the herd instinct of bankers before the crisis. In fact, these are social amplifiers of addictive behaviour: they influence obsessive behaviour in the

in Critical theory and legal autopoiesis
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What does race have to do with the Yugoslav region?

Non-Aligned ideology, and where Aimé Césaire, the theorist of Négritude, could identify a Dalmatian shore, Martinska, in anti-colonial solidarity with his own Martinique. And yet, compared with ethnicity and religion – which in many other settings are intricately linked to race – ‘race’, or the politics of racialisation and whiteness which constitute it, is rarely a subject of study for the Yugoslav region. The contrast with ethnicity is stark. After years of research explaining the late Yugoslav crisis through social inequalities and the

in Race and the Yugoslav region