Constitutions help define domestic political orders, but are known to be influenced by international mechanisms that are normative, temporal and network based. Here we introduce the concept of the ‘provision space’—the set of all legal provisions existing across the world’s constitutions, which grows over time. We make use of techniques from network science and information retrieval to quantify and compare temporal and network effects on constitutional change, which have been the focus of previous work. Furthermore, we propose that hierarchical effects—a set of mechanisms by which the adoption of certain constitutional provisions leads to or facilitates the adoption of additional provisions—are also crucial. These hierarchical mechanisms appear to play an important role in the emergence of new political rights, and may therefore provide a useful roadmap for advocates of those rights.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.67 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Hedling, N. A Practical Guide to Constitution Building (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2011); https://www.idea.int/publications/catalogue/practical-guide-constitution-building
Elster, J. Forces and mechanisms in the constitution making process. Duke Law J. 45, 364–396 (1995).
Law, D. & Versteeg, M. The evolution and ideology of global constitutionalism. Calif. Law Rev. 99, 1163 (2011).
Goderis, B. & Versteeg, M. The diffusion of constitutional rights. Int. Rev. Law Econ. 39, 1–19 (2014).
Ginsburg, T., Melton, J., Elkins, Z. & Leetaru, K. On the interpretability of law: lessons from the decoding of national constitutions. Br. J. Pol. Sci. 43, 399–423 (2013).
Ginsburg, T., Foti, N. & Rockmore, D. We the peoples: the global origins of constitutional preambles. George Wash. Int. Law Rev. 46, 305 (2014).
Law, D. S. Constitutional archetypes. Texas Law Rev. 95, 153–243 (2016).
Rockmore, D., Fang, C., Foti, N., Ginsburg, T. & Krakauer, D. The cultural evolution of national constitutions. J. Assoc. Inform. Sci. Technol. 69, 483–494 (2017).
Morris, H. Crowdsourcing Iceland’s constitution. The New York Times (24 October 2012); http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/crowdsourcing-icelands-constitution/?/_r=0
Barabasi, L. The network takeover. Nat. Phys. 8, 14–16 (2013).
Lazer, D. et al. Computational social science. Science 323, 721–723 (2009).
Bar-Yam, Y. Dynamics of Complex Systems (Studies in Nonlinearity) (Westview Press, Reading, MA, 1997).
Fowler, J., Johnson, T., Spriggs, J., Jeon, S. & Wahlbeck, P. Network analysis and the law: measuring the legal importance of precedents at the US Supreme Court. Polit. Anal. 15, 324–346 (2007).
Bommarito, M. & Katz, D. Measuring and modeling the US Regulatory Ecosystem. J. Stat. Phys. 168, 1125–1135 (2017).
Boulet, R., Mazzega, P. & Bourcier, D. A network approach to the French system of legal codes—part I: analysis of a dense network. Artif. Intell. Law 19, 333–355 (2011).
Clark, T. & Lauderdale, B. The genealogy of law. Polit. Anal. 20, 329–350 (2012).
Ruhl, J., Katz, D. & Bommarito, M. Harnessing legal complexity. Science 355, 1377–1378 (2017).
Hidalgo, C., Klinger, B., Barabasi, A. & Hausmann, R. The product space conditions the development of nations. Science 317, 482–487 (2007).
Finnemore, M. & Sikkink, K. International norm dynamics and political change. Int. Organ. 52, 887–917 (1998).
Price, R. Reversing the gun sights: transnational civil society targets land mines. Int. Organ. 52, 613–644 (1998).
Clauset, A., Arbesman, S. & Larremore, D. Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks. Sci. Adv. 1, e1400005 (2015).
Go, J. Modeling the state: postcolonial constitutions in Asia and Africa. J. Southeast Asian Stud. 39, 558–583 (2002).
Parkinson, C. Bills of Rights and Decolonization: The Emergence of Domestic Human Rights Instruments in Britain’s Overseas Territories (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, NY, 2007).
Arminjon, P. Trait de Droit Comparé (Librairie Génerale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, Paris, 1950).
La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., Shleifer, A. & Vishny, R. Law and finance. J. Polit. Econ. 106, 111355 (1998).
Zweigert, K. & Kötz, H. An Introduction to Comparative Law (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, NY, 1998).
Billias, G. American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776–1989 (New York Univ. Press, New York, NY, 2009).
Chilton, A. & Versteeg, M. Do constitutional rights make a difference? Am. J. Polit. Sci. 60, 575–589 (2016).
Law, D. & Versteeg, M. The declining influence of the United States constitution. NYU Law Rev. 87, 762–858 (2012).
Potthast, M., Barrón-Cedeño, A., Stein, B. & Rosso, P. Cross-language plagiarism detection. Lang. Resour. Eval. 45, 45–62 (2011).
Hensel, P. ICOW Colonial History Data Set Version 1.0. (ICOW, accessed 4 December 2017); http://www.paulhensel.org/icowcol.html
Fox, M. Beate Gordon, long-unsung heroine of Japanese women’s rights, dies at 89. The New York Times (1 January 2013); http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/asia/beate-gordon-feminist-heroine-in-japan-dies-at-89.html?pagewanted=all/&/_r=1
Pargendler, M. The rise and decline of legal families. Am. J. Comp. Law 60, 1043–1074 (2012).
Elkins, Z., Ginsburg, T. & Melton, J. The Endurance of National Constitutions (Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY, 2009).
Beck, C., Drori, G. & Meyer, J. World influences on human rights language in constitutions: a cross-national study. Int. Sociol. 27, 483–501 (2012).
Law, D. & Versteeg, M. in Constitutions in Authoritarian Regimes (eds Ginsburg, T. & Simpser, A) 165–198 (Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY, 2013).
Robinson, J. & Acemoglu, D. Why Nations Fail (Crown Publishing Group, New York, NY, 2012).
The authors are grateful to N. Adler for helpful conversations and A. Clauset for the MATLAB code used to derive the minimal violation ranking.
Two of the authors (A.R. and M.G.-H.) were employees of UNICEF when this work was completed.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Rutherford, A., Lupu, Y., Cebrian, M. et al. Inferring mechanisms for global constitutional progress. Nat Hum Behav 2, 592–599 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0382-8
Applied Network Science (2020)
Nature Machine Intelligence (2019)