The Rule of the Market: Economic Constitutionalism Understood Sociologically

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


Setting out from the works of Max Weber and Karl Polanyi, this chapter outlines a sociology of economic constitutionalism. The starting point is a functional definition of economic constitution as the law constituting the market order, no matter if it is public or private, national or international, official or informal law. Economic constitutionalism is understood as a system of thought, which emphasises the role of a liberal economic constitution in integrating the global economy. Adapting Weber’s ideal-typical method, the economic constitution is conceived as a constitutional ideal type, next to juridical constitution, political constitution, social constitution, and security constitution. Sociologically speaking, these ideal types capture different constitutional rationalities, which are all culturally significant but not equally successful in the global age. Drawing on Polanyi’s work, which exposes the self-regulating market as an artefact of economic thinking, the argument proceeds by highlighting the constitutive role of economics in constructing the law of the globalised market society. After economic law came to be embedded in national welfare states in the twentieth century, economic constitutionalism furthers the opening up of national laws and economies. In contrast to the rule of law, the rule of the market is inherently transnational in character.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociological Constitutionalism
Editors Blokker, Paul; Thornhill, Chris
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages241 - 264
ISBN (Print)9781107124042
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 506004 European integration
  • 504001 General sociology
  • 504030 Economic sociology
  • 504024 Sociology of law

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