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Title: The legitimacy of the secular state : people, culture and rights in comparative constitutional law
Author: Depaigne, Vincent
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 7413
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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The argument of the present thesis is that the withdrawal of religion as a source of legitimacy raises the issue of the foundations of the secular state and how the secular state has responded to this "legitimacy gap". The hypothesis developed here is that the "secular" should not be seen as separating culture (including religion) and politics, but rather in terms of how these two dimensions can be linked. Max Weber's theory of legitimacy and social contract theories are based on a move from traditional forms of authority towards modern forms of legitimacy, but do not provide a complete answer to the "legitimacy gap". It is suggested that modern constitutional law has moved away from a "substantive" legitimacy, based in particular on natural law, towards a "procedural" legitimacy - based on popular sovereignty and human rights - which leaves unanswered the issue of the nature of legitimacy in a secular/modern state. The dynamics of the problem developed above, that of the legitimacy of the secular state, will be explored by looking at the constitutional responses to this problem through three models of constitutional legitimacy which articulate in different ways three main sources of legitimacy (people, rights, culture): the "neutral model" (constitutions based on the "displacement of culture"); the "multicultural model" (constitutions based on diversity and pluralism); and the "asymmetric model" (constitutions based on tradition). The exploration of these models through three case studies - France, India and Malaysia - will show how secularism has moved either towards "nationalisation", being linked to a particular national identity (as in France and, to some extent, in India), or towards "de-secularisation", under pressure from religious or cultural identities (as in the case of Malaysia). The secular should thus be seen as a process of cultural (and religious) reform rather as a separation from culture (and religion).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available