• Leslie Wolf-Phillips
Part of the Studies in Comparative Politics book series


For the political scientist, the constitution is perhaps the most difficult element in a political system to subject to meaningful comparative analysis, for constitutional texts are, by their nature, formal, static, legalistic and descriptive.1 It may be that such study should be left to the constitutional lawyer or the constitutional historian; certainly, there is no doubt that the political scientist will gain little profit from such study unless he looks at such documents in the context of the political system in which they are set and the politics in which they are operative. At the outset, he is faced by a number of contrasting attitudes to the meaning of the term ‘constitution’ — attitudes which fall into two main groupings, namely, those which see ‘constitution’ in terms of the institutional organisation of the political system, and those which see ‘constitution’ in terms of a mechanism for the restraint of the power-holders in the political system. The first group tend to be variations of the definition put forward by James Bryce in his celebrated lectures as Regius Professor of Civil Law in the University of Oxford in 1884.2


Political System Political Scientist Political Institution Power Process Comparative Constitution 
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Copyright information

© Government and Opposition 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Wolf-Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

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