What is Constitutionalisation?

Martin Loughlin

in The Twilight of Constitutionalism?

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585007
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723469 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Constitutional Theory

What is Constitutionalisation?

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Constitutionalisation involves the attempt to subject all governmental action within a designated field to the structures, processes, principles, and values of a ‘constitution’. Although this phenomenon is having an impact across government, its prominence today is mainly attributable to the realisation that the activity of governing is increasingly being exercised through transnational or international arrangements that are not easily susceptible to the controls of national constitutions. Constitutionalisation is the term used for the attempt to subject the exercise of all types of public power, whatever the medium of its exercise, to the discipline of constitutional procedures and norms. This chapter aims to specify the character of this phenomenon, offer an account of its dynamic, and raise some questions about the processes it engenders. It argues that constitutionalisation is best understood by reference to the related concepts of constitution and constitutionalism. It begin by considering the 18th-century movements that gave rise to the modern idea of a constitution and its associated political theory, that of constitutionalism. By situating constitutionalisation in this context, the chapter offers a perspective that will help us to reach a judgment on the question of whether this emerging phenomenon of constitutionalisation signals the global triumph of constitutionalism, its demise, or its transmutation.

Keywords: constitutionalism; constitutions; public power

Chapter.  11785 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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