Theoretical Perspectives on the Social and Political Foundations of Constitutions
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
This is the opening essay in a forthcoming collection on the social and political foundations of constitutions. The collection includes both theoretical perspectives on the social and political foundations of constitutions and a series of in-depth case studies of different constitutional systems, including Japan, Ireland, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Romania, Ecuador, Argentina, South Sudan, and Egypt.
In this essay, we provide an analysis of different theoretical approaches to the social and political understanding of constitutions: constitutions as expressions of national values; constitutions as transnational values and products of diffusion; constitutions as a product of democratic values and the people; constitutions as manifestations of power; constitutions as social coordination; and constitutions as social contracts. We contrast these theoretical perspectives with the findings from the case studies in the collection, in this way combining the theoretical and the empirical.