Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

Constitutional Studies - the Constitution as Norm

Information

Former 2001/2002 Social Sciences - Law

Abstract

For many years since World War II, the Norwegian Constitution was largely studied in a national historical context and in relative isolation from comparative research. At the same time, the influence from "modern" empirical thinking in the field of social sciences and so-called "legal realism" of the Scandinavian kind was important. 

In opposition to the descriptive (empirical) approach to the study of the Constitution that has had a tendency of predominating in the recent past, there has been a regain of interest in the study of Human Rights, among political scientists a "new-institutionalist" approach has grown strng, and quite generally in Europe, developments such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the EU development have considerably enhanced the interest in Constitutional Studies as such. 

Along this lines, the idea that the Constitution merits to be studied (first) as a (legal) norm is the very basis for the present research project. It is likely to eintal important consequences for the topics to be selected, e.g.: a majority based or a "constitutional" consept of democracy; the Constitution not only as an "instument of government" but even as a "law" to be upheld by Courts; "parliamentary studies" not only of political behavior,  but even of norms supposed to govern that behavior; the internal structure of te system of (legal) constitutional norms; the importance of legal/constitutional elements in political arguing; the importance of legal form, for instance as to the relationship between constitutional change by formal amendment and by interpretation; and the relationship between norm and behavior. 

Within the normative approach, the project will be conducted by Eivind Smith (a constitutional lawyer with broad comparative research and experiences) in collaboration with a lawyer specialised in the philosophy of law (professor Svein Eng), a historian working in the Department of political science with extensive research i.a. in the development of the institutions of the Norwegian parliamentary system (professor Trond-Nordby) and a political scientist with broad experiences i.a. in comparative studies and normative theory (professor Bjørn Erik Rasch). 

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