Freedom and Power of European Constitutional Scholarship

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Fulltext

    Final published version, 215 KB, PDF document

What is it that European constitutional scholars are, and should be, pursuing?

The noble answer would be: knowledge, as all scholars do. However, they do much more, undoubtedly because of the nature of their discipline. Lawyers have always been close to power. This has consequences for the way they conduct their research and teaching and, as I argue in this article, also for their responsibility and the way in which they can combine their academic work with lawyering, business, and public advocacy.

The article is structured as follows: I first discuss how academics’ engagement with ‘real-life issues’ may relate to different forms of power: one governmental, or public, and the other economic, or private. The second section seeks to theorise the power which constitutional scholars exercise and show how it depends on their in the scientific community. The latter has, however, faced the ‘crisis of scientific authority’, as the following third section shows. Constitutional scholars have not been immune to pressures that academics in all fields have been facing, and the fourth section therefore deals with academic freedom – the notion derived not only from the post-war catalogues of fundamental rights, but something that goes deeper to the ‘history of the university’ and its place in the society. Freedom, however, also means responsibility and in my view, academic freedom requires restraint on the part of individual academics, if we want to preserve it for all – the academic collective and all its individual members (see the fifth section). The power of the academic collective is looked at critically in the final section of this article: a call for critical judgment and resistance to group thinking.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Constitutional Law Review
Pages (from-to)422-441
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 326962446