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
Open Access (free)

different theories with regards to Croatia. Instead, I propose a multi-layered approach to studying contemporary Croatian national identity. Adopting Paul James’ theory of ‘abstract communities’, I argue that national identity is constituted by the interaction of three levels of social abstraction. The first level is an abstract level of ‘big stories’ that distinguish the nation from other nations. In and of themselves, such stories have little meaning in contemporary contexts. Therefore the second level looks at the political and intellectual elites who attempt to make

in The formation of Croatian national identity

theory is an approach based on the ‘transcendental turn’ in modern philosophy in which focus moves from ‘facts’ to the conditions in which these facts are made possible (Laclau, 1990: 431). More specifically, discourse theory is interested in the meaning of facts, rather than their mere existence. In discourse theory, meaning is considered to be relevant at two levels: the interpretation of the facts by actors and, secondly, the way that the social world is consequently constituted. The focus on meaning and interpretation in discourse theory places it in the

in Irish nationalism and European integration
Economy, football and Istria

contained here reveal the nation to be a terrain of political competition in which the state is but one, albeit powerful and well resourced, protagonist. Such disputes take place not only among political and intellectual elites but also within a diverse range of social practices. The focus here then is on how interpretations of the historical statehood narrative are manifested in the identities that inform social practices. These chapters ask how competing ideas about Croatian national identity are manifested in different areas of social activity by considering the

in The formation of Croatian national identity
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analysing conscription as a social phenomenon should be divided into three sub-processes: ‘(1) pre-conscription socialisation; (2) military service; and (3) post-conscription interpretation of that military experience. None of these processes is a male-only affair’ (2000: 42). Furthermore, Kwon emphasises that research into conscription should focus on a ‘wider and deeper range of social issues’ than just men’s experiences whilst conscripted (2000: 28). This book intends to explore the wider social processes and cultural beliefs that underpinned conscription and the

in Masculinities, militarisation and the End Conscription Campaign
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-determination UNTAET is managing both the rebuilding of East Timor and its initial transition to statehood. It is a peace-building enterprise concerned in broad terms with the creation of structures capable of institutionalising peace. Peace building represents an extraordinary set of social and political experiments, made across cultures, by a chaotic mix of international, national and non-governmental agencies with competing agendas. Over the past decade, the international community has been increasingly engaged in the tasks of peace building, and has struggled to come to grips

in Human rights and the borders of suffering