The Constitution of Illiberal Democracy as a Theory About Society

Relying on Grażyna Skąpska’s theory of the constitution as a theory of the society, the paper considers the ‘theory of the society’ provided by the constitutions (public law) of illiberal political regimes, applying a sociolegal perspective. Illiberal democracies are understood as electorally endorsed regimes produced by populism. The present paper concentrates on EU member states, using Hungarian examples. The constitution is understood as a symbolic order with a vision of society that changes social and political realities. The paper argues that illiberal constitutions do not need to depart from mainstream liberal constitutions, notwithstanding the strong nationalist element. The constitutional reality is mostly sub-constitutional and it operates at the level of statutes. The emerging political structure is based on the primacy of the executive branch which in turn serves personalistic rule in the tradition of Weberian Caesarism. The rule is centralistic and creates and consolidates social, cultural and economic dependencies. Following Szelényi and Max Weber, this traditionalist, and therefore antiliberal society (or the selection of these social structures among competing formations by the political management of the society) is described in terms of neo-feudalism. The emerging social relations are reflected in and enabled by public law. The illiberalism of the regimes is not imposed on society and it is greeted as liberation by a considerable part. This genuine sentiment, together with electoral and media manipulation is capable to sustain the illiberal personalistic regime through formally democratic processes. 

Keywords: Constitution, illiberal democracy, society, Ceasarism, Hungary, Poland.




Challenges to the Idea of a Constitutional Polity

This essay defends the claim that democracy—the rule of the people—is only possible by means of a constitution. In John Searle’s analytical approach, democracy is based upon the distinction between regulative and constitutive rules; the latter create institutional realities which increase the capacity of human societies to mobilize their resources most effectively for a good social and political order. A case in point is the concept of the “will of the people,” which populist movements in several liberal democracies have been invoking as the truly authentic source of democratic rule. The author raises the question of whether modern-day dictatorships can be based upon the idea of democracy.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional polity, democracy, law and society.




Abuse of the Constitution as a Means of Political Change:

Sociological Reflections on the Crisis of Constitutionalism in Poland

This article aims to analyze abuse of a country’s constitution as a unique means by which fundamental changes can be introduced to the country’s political system. The term “abusive constitutionalism” is used to discuss the shift of the political system toward decreased democracy by means of changes to the constitution, as in the case of Hungary. In contemporary Poland, abuse of the constitution has entailed the creation of a parallel system via ordinary legislation passed rapidly by a simple parliamentary majority.

The thesis of this paper is that “abusive constitutionalism” and an “abused constitutionalism” stem from a crisis in liberal democratic constitutionalism as a motivating force and moral signpost in the public sphere.

In the place of democratic constitutionalism, there has been a return to emotion-laden conceptualizations of the political community. Primordial bonds, unquestioned traditional values, and founding myths are perceived as more meaningful than the law and the constitution. This sort of return to the past has its historical validation, but it is also a reaction to the growing complexities of the contemporary world and its risks. Another important empirical context for abusive constitutionalism is the negative constitutional consensus of a passive electorate. One indicator of a negative constitutional consensus is the population’s lack of interest in the democratic functioning of the public sphere.

Keywords: abused constitutionalism, constitutional nihilism, negative constitutional consensus, positive constitutional consensus, binding capital.




The Church–State Relationship in Polish Media:

Combining the Grounded Theory and Intermedia Agenda-Setting at the Network Level

 The article examines the reports on the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland as a religious and political event in mainstream Polish newspapers, websites and TV news in April of 2016. Using qualitative grounded theory and quantitative intermedia agenda-setting at the networked level, the author shows how this religious event was presented and interpreted as a dominant force in this Church–state relationship. As a result, he claims that the Church–state relationship in media was covered by an increasing policy of the Church putting pressure on the state by expanding religion in the public sphere.

Keywords: Church–state relationship, secular state, Polish media, grounded theory, Poland’s baptism anniversary.





Economic Exclusion as a Predictor of Cascade Exclusion:

A Case Study of Loan Companies in Poland 

This paper discusses the results of two empirical research projects on consumer micro-loans in Poland recently conducted at the Institute of Applied Social Sciences (University of Warsaw) and the Institute of Justice. The text summarizes the main findings of both studies and focuses on their main common thread: the various dimensions of social exclusion among average consumers who enter the loan market. The text argues that individuals who take consumer loans usually experience financial exclusion, which in turn prevents them from obtaining the cheaper credit available from banks. At the same time, by entering the loan market individuals de facto exclude themselves from effective legal protection (from courts and administrative bodies), which should be provided as an element of the rule of law in a democratic state. Building on these premises, the concept of “cascade exclusion” is proposed as an analytical framework for theses on interrelated dimensions of exclusion.

Keywords: social exclusion, inequality, consumers, credit, law.






Incentives and Inhibitors of Sustainable Consumption:

A Qualitative Study among Urmia Informants

Sustainable consumption in Iran needs serious attention. The present study, using the qualitative approach, studies the status of sustainable consumption among Urmia citizens as well as the incentives and inhibitors affecting this behavior. The data was collected through semi-structured deep interviews. Data analysis showed that the simultaneous effect of incentives and inhibitors of consumer behavior has led to the emergenceof a “Paradoxical Sustainable Consumption” among the informants. It means that on one hand, individuals with health-oriented, economy-oriented, and nature-oriented incentives which are incentives of sustainable behavior show sustainable consumption behavior, but on the other hand due to informants’ dissatisfaction with institutional and social structures that have a deterrent role in the formation of the sustainable consumption behavior they show an unsustainable consumption pattern.

Keywords: sustainable consumption (SC), paradoxical sustainable consumption, incentives, inhibitors, social structure.





The Attractiveness of Open-Air Markets for Shopping in a Large CEE City:

The Example of Kraków, Poland 

This paper analyzes the condition of open-air markets in Poland, with particular emphasis on Kraków. The authors note that there are a declining number of open-air markets. The size of the markets is also shrinking and there are a decreasing number of stands. Similarly, survey respondents demonstrate less interest in open-ai rmarkets as a shopping destination and significantly increased interest in shopping centers (malls), discount stores, supermarkets, and hypermarkets. However, open-air markets have many supporters: in particular, older people appreciate open-air markets, and not only because of the availability of fresh products at a relatively low price. They also appreciate such markets as meeting places. Open-air markets in CEE cities have always played an important commercial role and been witness to the history of these cities. For this reason and also because of the important function they play as unique public spaces, they should be protected and should receive special treatment from the local authorities.

Keywords: open-air markets, Central-Eastren European cities (CEE cities)




Advocacy in Action: Theory and Practice of Social Work

This article aims to present social work as a practice protecting the rights of people suffering from the processes of marginalisation. It takes as its point of departure two models of advocacy structuring multiple types of activity in this field, ranging from work with particular individuals to political engagement at the macro level.

The next part offers a discussion of the results of a quantitative study (CAWI and CATI interviews) conducted among social workers from local social welfare centres in the Wielkopolska region. In the light of analysis of the obtained data, the practice of advocacy in social work emerges as one focused on providing direct assistance in the form of financial and non-financial benefits. The declared level of acceptance to facilitating collective action and macro practice of social work was lower. The results also reveal the attitudes of social workers to social rights and social problems.

Keywords: advocacy, social worker, social rights, community practice.


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Polish Sociological Review – The English-language versions of publications were financed  by funds allocated by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for the dissemination of knowledge by the decision no. 881/P-DUN/2019 .

Polish Sociological Review – digitalization of publications and monographs in order to ensure and maintain an open access through the Internet is financed by the decision no. 881/P-DUN/2019 allocated by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for the dissemination of knowledge.