The Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project brings together a network of scholars, practitioners, and students working to develop innovative intellectual, pedagogical, and political interventions to advance the study of political economy and law. Our work is rooted in the insight that politics and the economy cannot be separated and that both are constructed in essential respects by law. We believe that developments over the last several decades in legal scholarship and policy helped to facilitate rising inequality and precarity, political alienation, the entrenchment of racial hierarchies and intersectional exploitation, and ecological and social catastrophe. We aim to help reverse these trends by supporting scholarly work that maps where we have gone wrong, and that develops ideas and proposals to democratize our political economy and build a more just, equal, and sustainable future.
LPE approaches illuminate the role of law and legal discourse in the creation and maintenance of capitalism and in mediating tensions between capitalist order and democratic self-rule. Scholars in our network work to understand the relationship between market supremacy and racial, gender, and economic injustice; to articulate the relationship between capitalism and devaluation of social and ecological reproduction; and to explore the distinctive ways that law gives shape to and legitimates neoliberal capitalism, ranging from dynamics of financialization to the relation between the carceral state and capitalism. We also seek to offer concrete legal reforms designed to move beyond neoliberalism and toward a genuinely responsive, egalitarian democracy, with critical attention to the need for power and movement-building as part of any such transformation.
In pursuit of these goals, we support the development of LPE-focused conferences, working groups, networks, courses and course material. We also work to connect scholars with activists, practitioners, and policy specialists, to ensure that LPE work both supports and is informed by those working on the ground.
The LPE Project is made possible through grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Economic Security Project, and the Ford Foundation. It is currently housed at Yale Law School.
Toward a Manifesto
This is a time of crises. Inequality is accelerating, with gains concentrated at the top of the income and wealth distributions. This trend – interacting with deep racialized and gendered injustice – has had profound implications for our politics, and for the sense of agency, opportunity, and security of all but the narrowest sliver of the global elite. Technology has intensified the sense that we are both interconnected and divided, controlled and out of control.
New ecological disasters unfold each day. The future of our planet is at stake: we are all at risk, yet unequally so. The rise of right-wing movements and autocrats around the world is threatening democratic institutions and political commitments to equality and openness. But new movements on the left are also emerging. They are challenging economic inequality, eroded democracy, the carceral state, and racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination with a force that was unthinkable just a few years ago.