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Sovereign Power, Public Power, Rights and Public Space

Oscar Larsson
Uppsala Universitet
Oscar Larsson
Uppsala Universitet
Open Panel

Abstract

The paper presents an argument that claims about the decline of sovereign power and de-politicization present in the discourse and literature on governance rely on a specific yet questionable conceptualization of sovereignty and sovereign powers. The established perception in governance is that a decline of state sovereignty necessarily involves a decline of sovereign powers since these two have received a practically ontological connection. However, the argument presented in this paper is that this specific conceptualization of formal state sovereignty and sovereign power as intrinsically connected is contestable. On the contrary I argue that in the absence of state sovereignty, sovereign powers, if understood as claims and creation of political spaces, i.e. politics of politics, are not necessarily declining but rather likely to assume a more pivotal role due to an increased uncertainty of political boundaries. Whereas sovereign authority historically has been theorized as public, unitary and absolute, new organizational modes open up for the possibility that this kind of power can be diffused and politicized. This possibility is made more plausible when considering how central boundaries that earlier were defined by state sovereignty and was thought to capture sovereign power have been made contestable in modern liberal states.