Keywords: European Intellectual and Cultural History; History of Ideas and Political Thought; Legal and Constitutional History.
This paper deals with the modern ideological profile of the legal concept of custom. Through a comparative analysis of the political jargon of 17th century England and 19th century Germany it aims at demonstrating that the concept of custom has pointed towards different, if not opposite, directions, depending on the historical period and on the political ideology it has been called to justify. The reason for this ambiguity may stem from the contradictory implications hosted by the concept. The first contradiction is between a 'conservative' and a 'transformative' facet of the concept. The second one separates a 'centrifugal/pluralistic' facet from a 'centripetal/monistic' one.