Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2013

Publication Citation

20 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 551 (2013)


This article proceeds from a critical sociological revision of classical constitutional theory. In particular, it argues for a sociological reconstruction of the central concepts of constitutional theory: constituent power and rights. These concepts, it is proposed, first evolved as an internal reflexive dimension of the modern political system, which acted originally to stabilize the political system as a relatively autonomous aggregate of actors, adapted to the differentiated interfaces of a modern society.

This revision of classical constitutional theory provides a basis for a distinctive account of transnational constitutional pluralism or societal constitutionalism. The article argues that the construction of transnational normative orders needs to be placed, in a sociological dimension, on a clearer continuum with classical constitutional models. Although contemporary society is marked by multiple, nationally overarching, and often functionally specific constitutions, such normative structures extend the original functions of constituent power and rights.

The article sets out the concluding hypothesis that rights form a running constitution in contemporary society, facilitating highly improbable acts of transnational structural construction and systemic inclusion. It is around the code rights-relevant/rights-irrelevant that transnational society constructs its processes of politicization and political inclusion. This code, however, brings to light a subsidiary or skeletal coding, which was latently co-implied in the political exchanges of modern society, and which was already expressed in early constitutionalism.

Transnational Societal Constitutionalism Symposium, Collegio Carlo Alberto, Turin Italy, May 17-19, 2012