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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.

Richard Rushton

late eighteenth century, especially under the influence of Kant and the broader trends of German Romanticism and Idealism (Schiller, the Schlegels, Hölderlin, Hegel and others). For Rancière, most of the art, literature and music we consider modern or modernist can be considered part of a historical bloc defined by the aesthetic regime. On this score, Rancière is emphatically opposed to notions of ‘postmodernism’. Rather, for him, the arguments of the postmodernists tackle the same issues as those of the moderns and, thus, there can be nothing ‘post’ about

in The reality of film
On social systems and societal constitutions
Darrow Schecter

as cases of reshuffled historical blocs and selective de-​differentiation. This stress on co-​ordination reinforces the caveat that literal readings of terms such as centralisation and dispersal/​de-​centralisation can lead to misinterpretations. When applied to modern states, centralisation and the division of powers are mutually reinforcing rather than contradictory or incompatible. Similarly, social systems are dispersed and nonetheless in steady communication with one another through a wide range of mediations. This argument will not be delved into again in

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Poulantzas, Laclau, Hall
Paul K. Jones

. Marx's refinements meant that social class, for example, was subdivided into the smaller scale ‘class fraction’. Likewise, Marx and Gramsci recognized the corresponding form of the ‘bloc’. In Marx this term primarily referred to alliances of factions within the parliamentary sphere. In Gramsci the historical bloc was an amalgam of economic and political forces constituted by ever-vulnerable ‘unstable equilibria’. Crucially, the historical bloc required an ‘organic’ ideology to hold its constituent forces together and it was this ideology, or a variant of it, that

in Critical theory and demagogic populism
Louise Amoore

the neo-Gramscian scholars, the study of change in IPE has tended to focus on the reciprocal relationships between forms of state, social forces and world orders (Cox, 1981). Drawing on Gramsci’s notion of a historical bloc (blocco storico), social transformation is viewed as complex, contradictory and multi-faceted. Murphy (1994) interprets Gramsci’s historical bloc as an apparently unified social order that may be compared, using an architectural metaphor, to a block of flats and shops that represent an underlying order. When a historical bloc is stable and

in Globalisation contested
Abstract only
Darrow Schecter

executive and judiciary with the transnational constitutional design to overrule national-​level legislatures and electoral results when deemed necessary. It is therefore equally possible to apply Marx’s analysis of Bonapartism in conjunction with Gramsci’s concept of the historical bloc to evaluate the dynamics shaping political events in Greece and elsewhere.4 It 2 Critical theory and sociological theory will be seen in due course that a number of the socio-​economic phenomena first diagnosed by Marx and Gramsci, and subsequently taken up in different guises by the

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Abstract only
Democratic state, capitalist society, or dysfunctional differentiation?
Darrow Schecter

theorists and critical theorists both object to arbitrarily de-​differentiated aggregations of systems, they may come a step closer to agreeing that such aggregations can be analysed as states that attempt to manage the systems or, in less conventional terms, as historical blocs. Here one can see an unsuspected affinity between the emphasis on political-​epistemological distance from prevailing patterns of institutional mediation in critical theory, on the one hand, and the stress on what systems theorists take to be the necessarily indirect and mediated quality of second

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Abstract only
David J. Bailey
Jean-Michel De Waele
Fabien Escalona
, and
Mathieu Vieira

and organised social forces coalescing around a consensus (or hegemonic) view within the contemporary historical bloc (Saull, 2012). The authors of the present volume draw on each of these conceptualisations, to varying degrees focusing on the extent to which neo-liberal tendencies have been undermined and potentially reversed as a result of the crisis. In particular, we seek to assess the extent to which both social democracy (as an ideology) and (concrete) social democratic parties have been able to promote their more historic goals of redistribution, regulation

in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
Looming constitutional conflicts between the de-centralist logic of functional diff erentiation and the bio-political steering of austerity and global governance
Darrow Schecter

, and legitimacy. Indeed, it is certainly possible to develop the theory of the integral state into a theory of the integral constitution.34 Governing by debt: on the emerging transnational historical bloc and post-​democratic constitutionalisation through rights regimes As the terminological affinities between liberal democracy and neoliberalism strongly imply, neoliberal institutions rely on their liberal democratic predecessors, especially as regards an avowed commitment to the rule of law and the enforcement of the division of powers. Depending on the national

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Sam King

. Saull , ‘ Rethinking Hegemony: Uneven Development, Historical Blocs, and the World Economic Crisis ’, International Studies Quarterly , 56 ( 2012 ), 324 . 34 Probsting, Great Robbery of the South , p. 264; F

in Imperialism and the development myth