Structures of Legitimation of Private, Intermediate and Hybrid Regulatory Regimes

The question as to how non-state and quasi-state rule is to be legitimized became insistent already before the beginning of the 19th century, as modern statehood and civil society based on private law took shape as independent, autonomous spaces. The central concern of the project is the identification and accentuation of patterns of legitimation that arise with the emergence of such non-state or quasi-state activities, which themselves correspond de facto or de jure to the exercise of sovereign power. This can include the diverse forms of legislation, adjudication and the exercise of administrative competences as they were practiced in the 19th- and early 20th-century legal orders.

The project contributes to the research area “Plurality of Normative Orders.” The innovative regulation assemblages it examines make substantial contributions to understanding the social facticity of “normative plurality,” which relates to diverse and controversial narratives of legitimation. Such narratives of legitimation are identified by investigating legitimation requirements, legitimation criteria, such as legality, the common good, effectiveness and efficiency, and various sources and topoi of legitimation, such as autonomy, sovereignty, democracy or self-rule.

The project was able to build on the extensive prior findings of the project “Regulated Self-Regulation from a Legal Historical Perspective” from the first phase of the Cluster (2008-2011), which was primarily concerned with fields of practice and regulatory instruments of non-state and quasi-state regulation. As a result, work during the funding period beginning in 2015 was able to address the conceptual foundations and considerations arising from state theory and jurisprudence in relation to such modes of regulation and the references they make to legitimation.

Interdisciplinary cooperation with the political science oriented Cluster project on “The Legitimation of Non-State Regulation in Networked Normative Orders” (K.D. Wolf) was very fruitful and it benefitted from a workshop whose results have been published in the meantime.

While we were able to determine that the intensity of the (contemporary) scholarly debate on the legitimation of non-state regulation in Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries was, generally speaking, fairly thin, and thus did not play a significant role, there were indeed noteworthy exceptions. Terms such as “cooperative association” and “autonomy” in the work of the so-called Gierke School, as well as in Stein’s administrative theories (“Verwaltungslehre”) and the corporatist literature, are important points of reference. The latter’s strong orientation toward the democratic topoi of argumentation, even though it is actually classified as anti-democratic, is readily apparent. This seeming contradiction has to do with the fact that until the middle of the 20th century no uniform understanding or conception of democracy had emerged. Of more central importance were debates among practitioners and functionaries of the associations to which the project paid special attention. Topoi of legitimation with sector-specific contours developed within the context of these debates.

From an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective – which played an important role in the cooperation with the project “The Legitimation of Non-State Regulation in Networked Normative Orders” – the near-constant invocation of epistemic elements of justification is striking, as is the rich variety of input and output oriented approaches to justification.

The most important publications of this project:

*Collin, Peter: “The Legitimation of Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation in Corporatist Concepts of Legal Scholars in the Weimar Republic”, in: Politics and Governance 5(1), 2017, [online] [15.10.2017].

Wolf, Klaus Dieter/Peter Collin/Melanie Coni-Zimmer (eds.): ”Legitimization of Private and Public Regulation: Past and Present”, in: Politics and Governance 5(1), 2017, [online] [15.10.2017].

Collin, Peter: Privat-staatliche Regelungsstrukturen im frühen Industrie- und Sozialstaat, Oldenburg: De Gruyter, 2016.

Collin, Peter/Sabine Rudischhauser/Pascale Gonod (eds.): “Autorégulation régulée. Analyses historiques de structures de régulation hybrides / Regulierte Selbstregulierung. Historische Analysen hybrider Regelungsstrukturen“ (= Trivium. Revue franco-allemande de sciences humaines et sociales 21), 2016, [online] [15.10.2017].

Collin, Peter: “Regulierte Selbstregulierung der Wirtschaft“, in: Zeitschrift für Neuere Rechtsgeschichte 37, 2015, pp. 10–31.


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