Skip to content

Weekly Roundup: July 22, 2022


At the Blog

On Monday, William Boyd examined the causes and consequences of the recent global food crisis. While the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been the main trigger for recent price spikes, Boyd argues that it is the underlying political economy of the global agro-food system that has created conditions where hundreds of millions of people don’t get enough to eat. As he writes, “even with the war in Ukraine, the world has sufficient stocks of wheat and other crops to meet global demand. While crop failures, supply disruptions, and ongoing conflicts are clearly hampering the ability to deliver food where and when it is needed, the bigger problem is that prices for food are too high for an increasingly large number of people across the globe…. Law and legal arrangements have been central in creating this political economy, operating not simply as a set of constraints on economic actors (through rules and regulations) but also as a constitutive force creating assets, structuring economic relationships, and shaping the distributional struggles around land, food, and other necessities.” 

On Wednesday, Michael Oswalt continued our symposium on Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment. One’s status—as a college athlete, graduate assistant, or essential worker—is not merely a source of vulnerability to coercion, but also a source of power—one that the courts, co-workers, and the public increasingly see as justification for broad-based change. As he writes, “That status can at times assist both self-organization and popular mobilization can be seen even in the bounded workplace categories that Hatton highlights. Unpaid college football players mint millions for coaches as they practice and play ‘always in fear’ of losing their scholarships (endangering their education) and playing time (endangering their dreams). Gritting through injuries and projecting ‘coachability’ through default subservience are the natural reactions. Yet, over time these obviously ludicrous power imbalances have led players to speak out and ultimately fight back, accumulating broad public support in the process.”

And on Thursday, Billy Hawkins continued the discussion, considering the many ways in which a culture of coercion and punishment is central to college athletics. As he writes, “Players’ agency is minimized by the cultural constraints of losing playing time or being labeled weak or un/coachable if they exert their agency. Both are labels that can make it extremely hard for players to overcome and be successful during their years of intercollegiate eligibility, or, if they are talented enough to get to the professional level, these labels could follow them and damage their success and the length of their tenure as professional athletes.”

In LPE Land

Are you as cool as Corinne Blalock? No. Are you close enough? If so, you should apply to become the Executive Director of the Law and Political Economy Program at Harvard Law School. Help build the LPE community at Harvard while pursuing your own research!

This and next week, the Yale Journal on Regulation is running a symposium on William Novak’s recent book, New Democracy: The Creation of the Modern American State. Twelve(!) scholars surveying the history of the administrative state (no word on how many turtle doves or French hens).

Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick has been helping listeners understand the recent wreckage of the Supreme Court. Listen to her interview with Dorothy Roberts on the reality of forced birth, as well as her discussion with Niko Bowie and Katharine Franke about the start of a new reactionary era at the Court.