Rainer Schmalz-Bruns



Professor of Political Theory, University of Hannover

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
October 2011‒March 2012

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»Beyond Democratic Legitimacy?«

Project outline:
The basic concept of democratic legitimacy, according to which the subjects of laws simultaneously and necessarily understand themselves as authors of these laws, is an inherently ambiguous one. This ambiguity only becomes fully evident when — as can certainly be discerned in a time of the progressive denationalization of politics —the identity of the assumed »self« of self-legislation itself becomes precarious as a result of nation-state boundaries being transgressed in the formation of political orders. This process renders visible the inherent tension between two possible interpretations of the concept of democratic legitimacy, one of which is based on the all-subjected principle and the other on the all-affected principle. If as a result of the progressive dissolution of the conditions of nation-state congruence the circle of those affected by legislation extends beyond those formally authorizing this legislation, then the determination of this indeterminate self still has to comply with the requirements of the idea of democratic legitimacy. It follows that the all-affected principle constitutes a sort of moral, universalistic spike against which every particular form of political communalization has to rub. The question to be investigated by the project thus concerns the identification of structural formations at the transnational level that can be understood as a response to this challenge. (Rainer Schmalz-Bruns)

Funding of the stay:
Excellence Cluster »The formation of normative orders«

Scholarly profile of Rainer Schmalz-Bruns


Main areas of research:
Theory of Democracy; European Integration; Cosmopolitanism, Human Rights and Global Statehood; International Institutions and Organizations

Selected publications:
  1. Political Legitimacy and Democracy in Transnational Perspective (= RECON Report 13), ed. with Rainer Forst, Oslo 2011.
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  3. Politik der Integration. Symbole, Repräsentation, Institution, ed. with Hubertus Buchstein, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2006.
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  5. Politisches Vertrauen. Soziale Grundlagen reflexiver Kooperation, ed. with Reinhard Zintl, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2002.
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  7. Theorie der Politik. Niklas Luhmanns politische Soziologie, ed. with Kai-Uwe Hellmann, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2002.
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  9. Reflexive Demokratie. Die partizipatorische Transformation moderner Politik, Baden-Baden: Nomos 1995.
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  11. Ansätze und Perspektiven der Institutionentheorie. Eine bibliographische und konzeptionelle Einführung, Wiesbaden: DUV 1989.
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  13. Alltag ‒ Subjektivität ‒ Vernunft. Praxistheorie im Widerstreit, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag 1989.

Other adademic activities:
rnRainer Schmalz-Bruns is the executive director of the editorial board of the Politischer Vierteljahresschrift (PVS) and co-editor of the series Politische Theorien und Ideengeschichte and Studies in Political Theory published by Nomos Verlag as well as a member of the advisory boards of various international journals, including Constellations, Transnational Constitutionalism and the Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte. He is also a member of the board of directors of the German Political Science Association (DVPW). From 1997 to 2003 he chaired the »Political Theories and History of Ideas« section at the DVPW. He was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin from 2002 to 2003.