Skip to content

LPE in U.S. Legal Thought: Historical Movements & New Directions

Yale Law LPE Student Group
Date added:

This syllabus was designed by Luke Herrine & Kate Redburn for the Yale Law LPE Student group. The purpose of this reading group is twofold: First, the group is intended to provide participants with a survey of major movements in 20th century American legal thought regarding the relationship between democracy, legal change and political economy, with a particular focus on those traditions that grew out of American Legal Realism. To that end, the first eight weeks of the group will examine major contributions on political economy from legal realism, neoclassical law and economics, critical legal studies, feminist legal theory, and critical race theory. The group will also engage with works outside the legal academy that deal with the historical and social context of law and markets. We will examine how legal thinkers in each of these movements defined basic terms like “markets,” “economy,” and “democracy,” and evaluate how they conceptualized the relationship between law, economic change, and social life. The hope is that this background will provide participants with a strong footing to engage with the nascent legal movement called “Law and Political Economy.”

The second purpose of the reading group is to examine recent legal scholarship which has addressed some of the same core questions. Accordingly, during the second part of the course, participants will split into five groups to dig deeper into recent work on a thematic focus: criminal law, labor law, law & money, public utility, or environmental law. In each of these weeks, we will bring Part I to bear on recent scholarship in the LPE network, and gain a deeper understanding of how the tenets of LPE have expanded, challenged, and varied from previous progressive movements in American legal thought.