Theorising Across Disciplines
Elgar Studies in Legal Theory
Edited by Roger Cotterrell and Maksymilian Del Mar
Chapter 3: The modern state and the concept of authority
Because the political and economic system has undergone very important transformations, particularly as an effect of globalisation, some authors speak of a crisis of the state and a crisis of the concepts which have been traditionally used by scholars, lawyers or lawmakers, from the origins in the 16th and 17th century to the 20th century to describe, justify or operate the apparatus of the state. In this chapter I focus on the concept of authority. Relying on Weber’s famous definition of the state as a claim for the monopoly of violence and Kelsen’s theory of the identity between law and state, I will try to show that the concept of authority of the state, which is synonymous with sovereignty, is and remains central. This is because the hierarchy of norms provides a specific form of discourse necessary for the exercise and justification of authority in the state and of the state, a discourse that is still relevant for the contemporary state and also for those phenomena that are known as transnational law.
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