Fatima Kastner (Bielefeld/Bonn): The Sociology of Constitutions: Societal Constitutionalism in Globalization


Within the debates on societal constitutionalism in globalization, there are differing opinions regarding what actually defines the typical characteristics of a constitution. It is admittedly indisputable that constitutions are normative orders that instruct further normative orders. However, whether constitutions must indeed be organized according to the political legitimation model of the modern nation state, or whether and to what extent the disjunction of the state and the constitution is necessarily connected to the structural transformations of a globalized world are subject of great controversy. Similarly, the matter concerning the constitutional object – that is to say, whether and to what extent international organizations, multinational companies, globally operating law firms, or even transnational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are considered “constituent powers” in the strict sense of the legal-political literature of the Enlightenment – remains a highly contested issue for traditional constitutional theory, both within legal academia as well as the political sciences.

Based on the sociology of normative orders, this presentation aims to pursue these questions by looking at the ways in which legal frameworks in national, international, and transnational contexts have evolved under the structural conditions of globalization. In fact, what can be observed is the evolution of a multitude of quasi-autonomous social fields in the sense of norm-producing regimes with global reach, such as Lex Mercatoria, Lex Digitalis, Lex Sportiva, and so forth. In contrast to conventional, primarily state-oriented constitutional theories, it will be argued that the evolution of these clusters of social and legal ordering gained relevance to such a degree that they can no longer be described as simple effects of state-based delegation of decision-making or as mere outcomes of inter-state relations. Against these perspectives, the lecture will then introduce alternative approaches premised on a theory of world society and world culture. The presentation will conclude with an illustration of its considerations by introducing Lex Transitus, a new global constitutional order based on the evolution of the normative concept of transitional justice.

Curriculum Vitae

Fatima Kastner is Associate Professor of Sociology at Bielefeld University, Germany. Having studied law, philosophy, and social sciences at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom and the Collège International de Philosophie (CIPh), Paris, France, she holds a Master and a Doctoral degree (Dr.) from the Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main, Germany as well as a Habilitation from Bielefeld University, Germany.

Before joining the faculty of sociology at Bielefeld University in 2015, Fatima Kastner held the position of a research fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and worked as a lecture at the department of Social Sciences of the University of Hamburg, Germany. Since 2010 she is a member of the Institute for World Society Studies at Bielefeld University, Germany.

Fatima Kastner received several prizes, research grants and scholarships from the Hessian Academic Scholarship Foundation, the German Research Organization (DFG) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Quite recently she was awarded the Adam Podgorecki Prize by the Research Committee on Sociology of Law (RCSL) of the International Sociological Association (ISA) in the category “outstanding achievements in socio-legal research”. Since 2014 she is an Ambassador for Science and Culture at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) in Germany. At present time she is speaker of the steering committee of the German Section of Legal Sociology of the German Association of Sociology (DGS) and board member of several other international scientific associations. She is commissioned as reviewer for high-ranking scientific journals, publishing houses and academic organizations.

Fatima Kastner is currently Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Law as Culture“, Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Bonn, Germany.