A collaboration of law faculty across several law schools announces a new initiative, the Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project. The Project will bring together a network of legal scholars, practitioners, and students developing innovative methods to challenge the dominance of market fundamentalism within legal scholarship and practice today. It is currently centered at Yale Law School, and partners with a wide range of other institutions.
The Project seeks to offer an alternative vision for law and legal scholarship that starts from the premise that politics and the economy cannot be separated and that both are undergirded in essential respects by law.
Yale Law School professor and project co-director Amy Kapczynski noted the motivation for the project: “We live in a time of increasing inequality, eroding democratic institutions, and accelerating ecological destruction. Law has fueled these crises and will be central to reckoning with them.”
Conventional legal scholarship fails to address these problems and, by relying too much on free-market models, may even reinforce the perception that they are beyond redress. Columbia Law Professor and project co-director Jedediah Purdy explained, “A new wave of legal scholarship needs to move beyond conventional divisions between ‘public’ and ‘private’ law, and between ‘economic’ and ‘social’ issues. The legal subfield of ‘law and economics’ has tended to focus on questions of wealth maximization and efficiency without regard to distribution, while public law questions concerning constitutional rights and democratic self-rule are too often treated as separate from questions of economic inequality and concentrations of private power.”
Building on the energy of the emerging law and political economy movement, the LPE Project aims to reconnect conversations about the economy to questions of dignity, belonging, and power. The Project aims to transform legal scholarship and pedagogy by centering issues of economic power, racial and gender subordination, and meaningful democratic inclusion. It aims to move beyond postwar models of the liberal welfare state in order to develop new policy solutions, intellectual approaches, and political strategies adequate to the crises of our time.
In pursuit of these goals, the LPE Project will support scholars working across an array of doctrinal areas and disciplines through the development of conferences, working groups, and scholarly networks. The Project will contribute to legal pedagogy by developing seminars, lectures, and course materials that foreground political economy, and integrate issues of racial capitalism and social and ecological reproduction. In addition, the Project will continue to develop the LPE Blog as a space to catalyze scholarship, test ideas, and foster debate.
The Project will also reach beyond the academy to connect scholars with activists, practitioners, and policy specialists. LPE Project Executive Director Corinne Blalock said that this approach “will ensure both that LPE work helps to shape policy-making and that social mobilizations and institutional debates inform LPE work in an ongoing way.”
The Law and Political Economy Project is funded by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation as part of its Beyond Neoliberalism Initiative. It is led by four faculty directors: Yale Law School Professor of Law Amy Kapczynski, Yale Law School Professor of Law David Singh Grewal, Columbia Law School Professor of Law Jedediah Purdy, and President of Demos and Associate Professor at Brooklyn Law School K. Sabeel Rahman.
The LPE Blog, launched in 2017, can be viewed at lpeproject.wpengine.com.
Inquiries concerning the LPE Project can be directed to:
Corinne Blalock, Executive Director
Amy Kapczynski, Faculty Director
David Singh Grewal, Faculty Director
Jedediah Purdy, Faculty Director
Sabeel Rahman, Faculty Director