Our blog begins from the observation that democratic political processes have lost control over fundamental decisions about how resources are allocated in our society. Legal doctrines enable champions of capital to subordinate democracy to “the free market.” We seek to develop a response by mapping how legal rules concentrate economic and political power amongst dominant social groups, and simultaneously build and expand modes of legal thinking which embed the economy in social life.
This group was initially convened by Amy Kapczynski as a seminar in Law and Political Economy at Yale Law School in Spring 2017. The course emerged from a meeting with students who wanted a clearer view of the critiques needed to respond to the 2016 election, economic inequality, and the ascendance of neoliberalism. We began with Polanyi and classic critiques of law and economics, and wove these together with work on social reproduction, racial capitalism, and labor. We then pivoted to read pioneering new scholarship from a wide range of legal fields that mobilized law and political economy critiques into progressive visions of how law might combat the inequities of our time.
The conversations in the seminar generated intellectual and political aspirations that extended beyond the four corners of the syllabus. The students and faculty members who had participated over the course of the semester wanted to expand the intellectual project, and to broaden it to include our communities beyond Yale. The result is our board of editors and contributors, a mix of law students and legal scholars. As you can read in greater detail, our hope is to build upon the work that inspired the initial seminar to convene, and articulate a more democratic and egalitarian framework in legal thought by bringing in questions of political economy.