Conceptions of the State

Olivier Beaud

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199578610
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Conceptions of the State

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This article challenges the idea that the concept of the state is a central feature of constitutional law everywhere. Sociologists have stolen a march on jurists by questioning whether the state is a universal phenomenon. The argument here is that only continental European scholarship has come up with what can be judged a complete theory of the state. By comparison, Anglo-American constitutional law scholarship has a somewhat incomplete conception of the state. To demonstrate this, the analysis relies on the usual threesome invoked for defining the state (a government, a territory, a people), which presupposes a somewhat fictitious similarity among all states, but on an examination of the relations of the state, first, with the concept of constitution, then with the concept of sovereignty, and finally with the concept of institution.

Keywords: theory of the state; constitutional law; European scholarship; constitution; sovereignty; instituion

Article.  8250 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Comparative Law ; Constitutional and Administrative Law

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