Essentia constitutionis: The Constitution of the Russian Federation in the focus of constitutional theories of the 20th and 21st centuries. Part 1

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DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2017-4-124-141

Keywords: 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation; constitutional fears; constitutional ideal; constitutional values; essence of constitution; integration through constitution; liberal theory of constitution; living constitution; theory of constitution


The Constitution as a phenomenon is studied not only in the field of jurisprudence, but also in those of history, political science, sociology, philosophy, economic sciences, and other social disciplines. Within jurisprudence, the constitution is the object of constitutional law, and in this framework a constitution is treated either dogmatically in strictly legal terns, or theoretically within the framework of constitutional theory. This article presents the most significant theories on the essence of constitutions through the 20th and 21st centuries. Among the surveyed theories are the normative theory, which regards the constitution as the highest norm of positive law, and the theory of integration, in which the constitution is viewed as the legal order of the process of state integration. The theory of the living constitution presupposes that the constitution develops over time and adapts to new circumstances without being formally changed. According to the axiological theory, the constitution is a system and a hierarchy of values. The liberal theory of defines a constitution as aiming to restrain power and guarantee human freedom. The theory of constitutional fear declares that constitutions appear as a result of previous fears that existed in society and are intended to release citizens from them by putting these fears to rest. The ontological theory of the constitution analyzes the correlation between the constitution and reality, and tries to answer the question of the relationship between constitutional norms and constitutional practices. The theory of constitutional ideals presupposes that the constitution embodies a certain ideal of the state, meaning an ideal state structure according to the standpoint of the authors of the constitution. The author leads the reader through this historical and theoretical maze in order to reflect on the impact that the abovementioned theories had on shaping the text, spirit, meaning, and practice of the existing Russian Constitution.

About the author: Dmitry Shustrov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, AssociateProfessor, Department of Constitutional and Municipal Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Shustrov D. (2017) Essentia constitutionis: Konstitutsiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii v fokuse teoriy konstitutsii XX–XXI vekov. Chast’ 1 [Essentia constitutionis: The Constitution of the Russian Federation in the focus of constitutional theories of the 20th and 21st centuries. Part 1]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.4, pp.124–141. (In Russian).


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