Sacred Law and Profane Politics. The Symbolic Construction of the Constitutional Tribunal
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Pedagogical University of Cracow
Jagiellonian University
Publication date: 2014-12-31
Polish Sociological Review 2014;188(4):461-474
The paper presents the symbolic dimension of the (re)production of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, which is considered to be a model legal-political institution. Paying close attention to meaning, narrative, symbolic codes, and rituals, the authors object to a reductionist explanation, based on instrumental thinking and conscious and material interests, of the legal institutions of power. In accordance with neo-Durkheimian cultural sociology, the Tribunal is presented here as an institution created through binary symbolic codes (sacred/profane), and reproduced, in crisis situations, in performative acts constituting moments of ritual purification. The dominant narrative legitimizing the Tribunal counterpoises ‚sacred’ law with ‚profane’ politics in order to superimpose subsequent homological classifications (rational/irrational, pure/impure, universal/particular). The Tribunal’s symbolic power is thus hidden within a thick web of meanings, which invisibly reinforce its authority.
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