This post is part of the symposium celebrating the inaugural issue of the Journal of Law and Political Economy. The issue is now available on the eScholarship platform of the University of California.
Devoted readers of this blog know that it began as an attempt to synthesize a new legal approach to the many crises that face us. The need to understand and address the myriad intertwined and accelerating crises facing us—from skyrocketing inequality to the crisis of social reproduction to the ongoing disregard of Black and brown lives to the rise of new authoritarianisms to the existential threat of global climate change—similarly motivates our founding of the Journal of Law and Political Economy (JLPE). In our Editors’ Introduction to Issue 1 of JLPE, we explain our own sense of what “Law and Political Economy” is, as an intellectual enterprise and as a network of scholars, policymakers, students, and advocates. Here we offer a bit of background.
The ClassCrits board began discussing the idea of a peer-reviewed journal as a way to broaden and deepen scholarship in Law and Political Economy in 2016. For instance, in a memo circulated to the ClassCrits, Inc. Board that year, Angela wrote:
[T]he time seems critical to abandon the intellectual stagnation of “There Is No Alternative,” and to encourage new thinking about economic relations and state governance. Central to any forward movement is a re-engagement of economics with the question of power. For far too long, mainstream economists have declined to engage with concepts such as subordination and exploitation. Recently, however, and across a number of traditional disciplines, intellectuals have begun to integrate economics into their work on power and privilege. Central to rethinking economics is a return to the conundrum of the relationship between race and class. Similarly crucial is an understanding of economic power as intertwined with political power, and the key role of the state in creating, facilitating, and changing markets (in contrast to the neoclassical notion, embraced by neoliberalism, that markets are not political). We seek a publication venue that is friendly to interdisciplinary work, and that is therefore accessible to readers from a range of disciplines, with a focus on legal rules and institutions and state power.
Our desire to create such a venue was stoked by the recognition that it could help synthesize and consolidate a robust, sprawling body of scholarly political economy scholarship both inside and outside law. By 2016, for example, ClassCrits itself was nearly a decade old. Beginning in 2007 as a series of small workshops at the University of Buffalo designed to bring together legal academics and heterodox economists, ClassCrits soon blossomed into an annual conference, and is now a nonprofit organization of academics led by Lucy Jewel at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Meanwhile, the indefatigable Martha McCluskey, along with Frank Pasquale and Jennifer Taub, founded the Association for the Promotion of Political Economy in Law (APPEAL) in 2013. Most recently, the LPE Project has both kindled mounting scholarly interest in Law and Political Economy, and inspired the formation of LPE student groups around the country.
In addition to providing a dedicated venue for LPE scholarship, enriched by the rigor of peer review, we intend the Journal of Law and Political Economy to connect scholarship in law with related scholarship in other disciplines. Our Editors’ Introduction takes note of the multiple literatures in disciplines outside law that touch on LPE—from the social sciences (including political science, sociology, anthropology, political ecology, geography, and yes, economics) to the humanities (including history, ethnic studies, Indigenous studies, postcolonial and decolonial theory). Our Advisory Board is composed of scholars from many of these disciplines, and includes some whose work is central to the emerging LPE canon.
As we canvassed this burgeoning scholarship, however, we also noticed a lack of sustained and systematic engagement among scholars working inside and outside the legal academy. Just as legal scholars have not always trained in political economy, scholarship published outside law often overlooks or misinterprets the workings of law. Yet, as readers of this blog know, law is crucial to the material and ideological infrastructure of contemporary political economy, serving as both the “code of capital” and the source code of political inclusion and exclusion. JLPE aims to be a welcoming space for legal scholars working in the critical, doctrinal, and empirical traditions that have given rise to LPE. Perhaps just as importantly, however, we hope to provide an intellectual space in which legal and non-legal scholars interested in political economy can connect with one another’s work in deeper ways. Our commitment to open access facilitates this aim.
In addition to helping build a sophisticated interdisciplinary literature, we hope that JLPE will aid the careers of junior LPE scholars (including graduate students and law students) by providing them with a publication venue dedicated to cutting-edge interdisciplinary scholarship where they can submit their work. Indeed, we have dedicated special editorial resources toward mentoring students who wish to publish book reviews with us, providing them with feedback and guidance, and we encourage junior scholars to consider submitting their articles and essays as well. Please reach out to our Managing Editor, Eric George, at [email protected] if you’d like to write a book review.
With a double-blind peer review process, JLPE seeks to uphold the most rigorous academic standards while also remaining welcoming of the most innovative scholarship at the intersection of law and political economy. We believe that the nearly thirty articles slated for Volume 1 of the Journal represent a dazzling and brilliant cross-section of the new scholarship in Law and Political Economy. We also believe our authors have benefited from their access to experts in a broad range of legal and non-legal disciplines.
We encourage the readers of this blog not only to peruse Issue 1, but to engage with us—as authors, as peer reviewers, and as volunteers. Because we are supported by the open-access platform of the University of California instead of a traditional commercial publisher, we rely on the efforts of faculty and students to provide copy editing and proofreading. We are also interested in expanding our editorial board to welcome members of the LPE community who share our mission. For questions about joining the team, please contact Angela at [email protected], or Jay at [email protected]
JLPE aims to serve as a catalyst for advancing scholarship that critiques and supplants approaches to understanding the relationship of law, markets, and societies that advance narrow conceptions of “efficiency,” the view that market ordering represents a neutral baseline, and the technocratic governance of economy and society with the sorts of vigorous engagement with issues of power, equality, and democracy recently called for by the founders of the LPE Project. Our central goal is to explore power in all of its manifestations–including the relationship between market governance and race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and global inequality—and to build bridges among the diverse groups whose work analyzes and resists the legal foundations of structural subordination and inequality. We look forward to your support and participation!