The Governance of the Rule of Social Law

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Department (Manual Entry)

Dept.. of Political Science


The architect Daniel Libeskind has written a noted lecture, "Traces of the Unborn." We might add, "Traces of the Stillborn." There is a tendency in historical institutionalism (HI) to concentrate on the retrieval of traces of paths taken rather than (1) to consider the processes involved in the selection of paths; and (2) to reflect upon the conditions of institutional emergence and sedimentation of paths, whether taken or untaken. Contrary to the path-dependency obsessed historical institutionalism of a Paul Pierson, this paper stresses the significance of historical case studies of institutional emergence in the earlier 20th century and their diremptive role within an unfolding genealogy of knowledge--what Foucault referred to as "effective history/critical history." A more critically oriented historical institutionalism journeys into the interior of institutions beyond "interestedness" toward "committedness," toward the endogenous emergence of the argumentative logic of a mode of legitimation.

The traces of the not yet or not fully born reveal the case of the law creating capacity of autonomous collective associations. They shape their own autonomous domains heteronomously, institutionalizing collective rationalities - -institutionally separated, but recursively and complementarily connected to each other within a network. Such institutional emergence in practice reflects liberalism's inability to grasp the constitutive quality of collective life first provoked at the beginning of the 20th century by organized/monopoly capital, and today under the compression of globalized capital. How does liberalism cope with pluralism? How does it do so beyond the legacy of premodern guild and collegial institutional forms?


Original Version:

Source Data

Presented at the History Matter Conference, New School University, New York New York (24 April 2004)