Veil of Ignorance Project


The Veil of Ignorance Project
Louis M. Imbeau (
Steve Jacob (

In this project, we want empirically to explore Buchanan's and Tullock's hypothesis to the effect that constitution drafters, because they are uncertain about their future position in society, attend to the interests of the larger number rather than to their own private interests. Adopting a cognitive perspective, we read national Constitutions as an indication of the motivations of the drafters so as to measure the opacity of the veil of ignorance behind which they were supposed to be standing while drafting the constitution. We proceed in three steps. First we formulate a conceptual framework based on power analysis to distinguish three distributions of power that decision-makers want to maintain or modify through their choices. Second we detail a content analysis method that helps us systematically extract the power relations embedded in constitutions as discourse. Third, with the support of several national teams, we proceed to the actual content-analysis of national Constitutions with specific emphasis on validity tests. Fourth, we look for the determinants of the variation thus uncovered. Results will be put together in an edited volume.


  • Belgium
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chad
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Niger
  • Suitzerland
  • Tunisia
  • United States of America


Here are the individuals presently involved in the project:

  • Thomas C. EBOUTOU, Université Laval, Canada
  • Cristine De Clercy, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Emma GALLI, Univertà di Roma - Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  • Veronica GREMBI, Università del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy
  • Louis M. IMBEAU, Université Laval, Canada
  • Karin INGOLD, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Steve JACOB, Université Laval, Canada
  • Jean-Dominique LAFAY, Université de Paris I - Sorbonne, France
  • Racem MEHDI, University of Tunis and University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia
  • Ringa RAUDLA, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
  • Christine ROTHMAYR, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • Nathalie SCHIFFINO, Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) , Belgium
  • Agnes STRAUß, University of Hamburg, Germany
  • George TRIDIMAS, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland
  • Frédéric VARONE, Université de Genève, Switzerland
  • Stefan VOIGT, University of Hamburg, Germany 

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