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Conference Panel: Moral Economy after Consumer Sovereignty

Mar 12, 2021



Time of Event:

Friday 1PM-2:30 (ET)

This panel will examine the values or normative principles that govern legitimate and illegitimate conduct in economic life, particularly as those values are embodied in law.

Although it purports to be opposed to the application of moral principles to the marketplace, neoliberalism has a distinctive moral economy that revolves—at least discursively—around the concept of consumer sovereignty. Morally proper business behavior is whatever maximizes “consumer welfare”. It is by now well established that this picture of the marketplace is riddled with problems in both its descriptive and prescriptive aspects.

Part of the goal of the project of Law and Political Economy must be to articulate a vision of moral economy that does not rely on neoclassical assumptions about how market competition and consumer choice work and that places progressive values like anti-racism, democratic decisions
about conditions of work, and basic social provision for all at its core. This panel begins to ask the question of what such a moral economy would look like.


Luke Herrine (Yale Law School, LPE Project), “Reconstructing Moral Economy in Consumer Law” (based on this recent article)

Sanjukta Paul (Wayne State University Law School),  “Moral Economy in the Antimonopoly Tradition and Antitrust Law” (based on this recent article forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal)

Kate Redburn (Yale University), “Moral Economy in Public Accommodations Law”

Marshall Steinbaum (University of Utah), “The Logic of Consumption in Higher Education and the Student Debt Crisis”

Sandeep Vaheesan (Open Markets Institute), “Contracts of Dispossession” (based on this recent article with Matthew Buck)