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
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
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 mediated unity and overarching legal-political form

1 Reconsidering the theoretical preconditions of modern democratic statehood: on mediated unity and overarching legal-​political  form This chapter examines two of the central premises underlying most standard explanations of the construction of modern democratic statehood and its preconditions and raises fundamental questions about their continuing relevance. The presuppositions in question must be deconstructed because they offer an inaccurate account of the rights of citizens and the resources of states in the twenty-​first century. This preliminary work is

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

involved are indeed enormous when one considers the obvious limitations of the state for this purpose. To be more precise, it would seem that there are insurmountable problems for the particular form of political statehood that is conventionally conceived in its nationally defined and territorially delimited instantiations, and which frames questions of integration and legitimacy in terms of mediated unity or constituent power.6 It is easy to overlook the fact that there are more than casual affinities, both in historical and theoretical terms, between personalised

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

if they are completely detached and isolated in a condition of permanent separation. The implication is that the relation between differentiated social systems is characterised by mediation, communication, and a form of dialectics which, it has been shown here, is misdiagnosed when described as the inherently democratic dialectics of mediated unity (this does not mean that they must instead be coded in a quantitatively pared-​down, binary fashion). It has also been shown that the dynamics of systemic coup­ ling, de-​coupling, and re-​coupling offer a much more

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Abstract only

­chapter 1 in the discussion linking the concept of mediated unity with the consolidation of the modern nation state, and are then explored in more detail throughout the rest of this book. Chapters 1 and 2 draw out a number of the consequences for our understanding of democracy.9 In consequence it would be mistaken to suppose that modern societies are the passive victims of systemic expansion and periodic dysfunction. The example of Keynesian economic management and the establishment of the welfare state and post-​war consensus in Britain, for example, show that post

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

series of processes that unite, without fusing, and that separate, without permanently isolating. In short, one is trying to explain processes of medi­ ation without relying on a central mediating foundation in the ways that weak and strong models of mediated unity tend to do. Hence it is noted at various junctures that centralisation does not mean hermetically sealed off, and that it is unlikely that states were ever territorially integral units that only now are being forced to grudgingly cede bits of their sovereignty to the institutions of international governance

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Liberating human agency from liberal legal form

because of humanity’s mediated unity with reason discerned with clarity in Kant’s account of the synthetic quality of knowledge in which subjective factors enter into relation with objective factors. The question of the division between humanity and humanity’s appurtenance to nature, in terms of certain mimetic impulses and a variety of drives and needs that evolve and undergo change in the course of history, is not really

in Beyond hegemony

and freedom opens up the possibility to investigate the concept of knowledge by way of ideal types. This can be pursued by retaining the humanity–nature framework which has guided the argument so far, and by focusing on the two primary manifestations of knowledge in all modern industrial societies. In the first instance these are collective forms of knowledge yielded by the mediated unity of humanity and external nature in

in Beyond hegemony