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Sovereignty: The Origin and Future of a Political and Legal Concept

Dieter Grimm
Translated by Belinda Cooper
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Dieter Grimm's accessible introduction to the concept of sovereignty ties the evolution of the idea to historical events, from the religious conflicts of sixteenth-century Europe to today's trends in globalization and transnational institutions. Grimm wonders whether recent political changes have undermined notions of national sovereignty, comparing manifestations of the concept in different parts of the world. Geared for classroom use, the study maps various notions of sovereignty in relation to the people, the nation, the state, and the federation, distinguishing between internal and external types of sovereignty. Grimm's book will appeal to political theorists and cultural-studies scholars and to readers interested in the role of charisma, power, originality, and individuality in political rule.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53930-2
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Series Editor’s Foreword
    (pp. IX-XII)

    The concept of sovereigntyis associated with the emergence of the modern state. Today the sovereignty of that state appears to be threatened. On the one hand, the forces of the global market limit its ability to determine its own destiny and care for the welfare of its citizens. On the other hand, the growing weight of a cosmopolitan moral conscience weighs on the political choices of liberal democratic political institutions. The creation of international organizations to overcome these limitations founders on the ambiguity of their political status. Are these institutions simply the product of treaties made by states that...

  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
  5. A Sovereignty in a Time of Changing Statehood

    • [A Introduction]
      (pp. 1-10)

      For centuries, sovereigntyhas been a key concept in political and legal discourse. This is not to say, however, that its meaning has always been obvious or that it has even remained the same. Its connection to political rule has been constant since the thirteenth century. But political systems changed so fundamentally in the ensuing eight hundred years that the concept of sovereignty could not remain unaffected. It was forced to adapt more than once to the great changes in the development of political rule. As a result, more than a few characteristics of the concept of sovereignty have changed...

  6. B Development and Function of the Concept of Sovereignty

    • I Bodin’s Significance for the Concept of Sovereignty
      (pp. 13-32)

      Sovereignty is linked, like no other principle of politics or law, with the name of one author: Jean Bodin. Bodin did not invent the word, however; it already existed.¹ The expressionssovereignandsovereigntyhad been linked to political rule since the thirteenth century in France, where they first appeared a century earlier. In the beginning, they served to characterize concrete phenomena of significant height, such as mountains or towers. Somewhat later, they were also used to describe the power of God.² The reference to physical objects was soon lost. The application to God continued for a somewhat longer time....

    • II Sovereignty in the Constitutional State
      (pp. 33-76)

      With the exception ofEmer de Vattel, none of the authors who raised the question of the limits on state power or developed the concept of popular sovereignty derived the necessity of a constitution from these premises.¹ The contract theory mainly served as a test of the legitimacy of a political system. This test was met if the system could be imagined as having been voluntarily agreed upon by rational human beings. The idea of a legal document that established, rather than merely modifying, government and that comprehensively regulated the establishment and exercise of power was not part of this....

    • III External Sovereignty
      (pp. 77-98)

      The epochal transformationwrought by Bodin upon the concept of sovereignty in the sixteenth century was motivated by domestic politics. Concentrating the scattered powers of governance into a comprehensive public power situated in a single hand and extending them to lawmaking were conditions for overcoming civil war and pacifying society. But this had consequences for international politics. Unified territories formed as a result of this concept; they were now the locus of public power now referred to them. It was no longer defined personally, but territorially. People were subject to rulers based on their territorial connections.

      The crucial phenomenon in...

  7. C Sovereignty Today

    • [C Introduction]
      (pp. 101-128)

      The answer to these questions cannot be found in the history of the concept of sovereignty. As we have shown, no clear standard exists for applying the concept. The constellations to which it has referred are too different, the meanings it has taken on in fluctuating relationships and ideas too numerous, and the functions it has fulfilled at various times and in various places too uneven. But this does not render a historical examination unnecessary. Precisely because it reveals the variety of meanings, the context dependence and adaptability of the concept, such an examination prevents overhasty determinations and prognoses.¹ There...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 129-156)
  9. Index
    (pp. 157-168)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 169-170)