Constitutions as political institutions

Authored by: Tom Ginsburg

Routledge Handbook of Comparative Political Institutions

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415630887
eBook ISBN: 9781315731377
Adobe ISBN: 9781317551799


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Constitutions are the primary institutions for organizing and regulating political systems, and therefore crucial subjects for comparative political analysis. Indeed, because constitutions provide the rules about the making of rules (Buchanan and Tullock 1962), they might be productively characterized as meta-institutions, and have been of interest to scholars since Aristotle. In recent decades, institutionalist scholars have gone a long way toward articulating functional theories of constitutions and have also paid attention to the determinants of form through studies of diffusion and borrowing. But there is still much work to be done in testing theory, and in delving into complex questions of institutional complementarity. Although there are significant methodological and data challenges for the research program in comparative constitutional studies, there is great promise for the future.

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