Skip to content

Weekly Roundup: March 3, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Jonathan Harris explained how a growing number of employers are saddling workers with debt and locking them into their current jobs through Training Repayment Agreement Provisions. While courts, have routinely rejected legal challenges that claim these agreements violate employment laws, Harris suggests there is another legal mechanism that can stop this harmful and mobility-restricting practice: consumer law. As he writes, “consumer law can be a powerful tool for workers in all sorts of harmful situations, from exploited gig workers framed as ‘consumers’ and ‘customers’ of the platforms’ services, to immigrant commercial janitorial workers classified as ‘franchisees’ and sold marketing and operational management services under false promises of high earnings. When firms treat workers as their consumers by selling them services and credit products, the workers become worker-consumers and consumer law becomes work law.”

On Tuesday, the One and Only Alyssa Battistoni ™ continued our symposium on Reconsidering Reparations by discussing Táíwò’s challenge to philosophical method and raising a set of questions about the aim, scope, and political vision of his constructive project. As she writes, “In contrast to the implicit modernization theory of most analytic philosophy, Táíwò follows in the vein of thinkers like Walter Rodney in seeing development as a relational phenomenon. In this view, there is no universal path to development: rather, some countries have developed at the expense of others. For Táíwò, this actual history must be the starting place for making claims about justice. Methodologically, then, Reconsidering Reparations suggests a way of doing normative philosophy out of what Katrina Forrester has memorably called the ‘shadow of justice’ cast by Rawls’s work.

And on Thursday, Matthew Robinson concluded our symposium by explaining why Reconsidering Reparations deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in law and political economy. As he writes, “Without significant changes in the social provisioning processes, wealth and advantage, along with poverty and disadvantage, will continue to accumulate. No marginal change in a tax code or behavioral nudge will induce the radical change that is necessary for those accumulations to reverse course. For hundreds of years, global capitalist development has been fueled by the exploitation of land and labor. Public policy and legislation in the Global North were not used to create a level playing field on which utility-maximizing individuals and profit-maximizing firms could compete in a growing global economy; it was used to facilitate exploitation and the accumulation of profit among the powerful.”

In LPE Land

The LPE Project and LPE@HLS are excited to announce our upcoming conference, Law and Political Economy: Labor, Social Control, and Counterpower, which will take place from March 31 to April 2, 2023 at Harvard Law School! Conference events will be held in person and also livestreamed. The conference is free to attend, but registration is required for in-person attendance.

The Journal of Law and Political Economy invites submissions from scholars in law, the social sciences, and the humanities whose research seeks to expose mechanisms of structural inequality and promote economic, political, and social justice. JLPE publishes ~12,000 word peer-reviewed articles on a range of topics relevant to LPE and accepts submissions *at any time* via their website, where you can also find detailed submission guidelines.

Pierre-Christian Fink’s article on the Federal Reserve’s failure to halt rule evasion in the financial crisis of 1974 was published in the American Sociological Review.

Dan Rohde has a new paper, “The Bank of the People, 1835-1840: Law and Money in Upper Canada,” which connects the 1830s contest over Canadian money & sovereignty to present-day debates in the wake of financial crises.

A new episode of the slingshot includes Evan Starr’s research on employment non-competes, Andrea Beaty’s work on FTC funding needs, and some short discussion on airlines. Feat. Evan Starr, Andrea Beaty, Marshall Steinbaum, Hal Singer, and Darren Bush.

In the New Republic, Sandeep Vaheesan argues that the FTC and other antimonopoly enforcers should target Amazon’s contractual domination of nominally independent workers and firms, such as delivery service partners and third-party sellers.

The most recent issue of Daedalus focuses on “Creating a New Moral Political Economy,” with pieces by Darrick Hamilton, Debra Satz, Joshua Cohen, Suresh Naidu, and many more.