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

chances’. It also confirms the related thesis that partisan factions continue to use interventionist steering in their power struggles against one another. The resulting policies often disturb systemic operations without correcting their destructive tendencies.10 Hence the analytical and normative arguments for societal constitutionalism seek to establish which of the preconditions for a transition to social statehood are demonstrably on hand; it is thus also incumbent on those who defend societal constitutionalism to ascertain which preconditions are not as yet

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

beyond human control or impervious to accountability becomes strikingly apparent when analysing the forces and interests opposed to the transition from conventional political statehood to transnational social statehood that has seemingly foundered with the advent of neoliberalism and the twin crises of the welfare state and social democracy. It will be seen in ­chapter 5 that the arguments for social statehood are not intended to turn back the clock in order to resurrect social democratic welfarism. At this stage it will suffice to note that some of these nationalist

in Critical theory and sociological theory
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ways in which power is divided and shared. Perhaps most significantly for the argument about the changing composition of statehood developed in subsequent chapters, they affect the mediations between the various economic, educational, juridical, and cultural elements of democracy. In more speculative terms, then, the book explores the possibility that new mediating and representative institutions are emerging, and that these institutions could provide the impetus for a gradual transition from political to social statehood. It is somewhat difficult to assess the

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

democracy also raises questions concerning a pos­sible re-​coupling of legislative and judicial functions that is relevant to the argument about FD, social systems, and social statehood sketched in this book. It highlights, second, that the processes of public political will formation are delicate and susceptible to manipulation on the part of government ministries, informally powerful groups, and the media.24 The more ambitious claim about social statehood just alluded to, which needs more empirical evidence than is provided here, is that judicial authority, which is

in Critical theory and sociological theory