The political sociology of constitutions and the material constitution

This paper will discuss a political sociology of constitutions and constitutional politics. To this end, first, it will engage with the crucial question of the normative and sociological legitimacy of constitutional orders. Second, it will discuss the status of the political in sociological constitutionalism, and it will make a case for the recuperation of a notion of collective autonomy. Subsequently, it will suggest the need for the acknowledgement of a plurality of legal/constitutional rationalities, beyond those related to liberal constitutionalism, to, fourth, link this with the idea that constitutional orders are subject to continuous conflict over their meaning. Finally, key dimensions of a distinctive political-sociological understanding of constitutions – such as conflict, plurality of rationalities, and hegemony, will be related to the idea of the ‘material constitution’, not least in the context of the European constitutional order