This seminar introduces students to the field of “Law and Political Economy” (LPE) and explores current topics in LPE scholarship. LPE scholars are a diverse group whose work cuts across subject areas and methodologies. Nevertheless, LPE scholars tend to hold that “the economy” and “politics” are deeply interdependent—and yet that much legal doctrine, legal scholarship, and legal discourse denies that interdependence. Many LPE scholars also seek to understanding the relationship among axes of social inequality including race, class, gender, and nationality, and to envision more democratic and inclusive legal and political-economic orders.
The first part of the course will provide general introduction to LPE. We will begin by reading several law review articles articulating what LPE is and that lay out major themes within LPE research. We will then situate LPE within past bodies of legal theory including legal realism, critical legal studies, and critical race theory. In Spring 2022, the second part of the course will address at least two current topics in LPE research. First, we will study classical and contemporary theories of the relationship between law and capitalism as a social and economic order. Our goal there will be to shed additional light on how law constitutes the political-economy, and how political-economic forces in turn shape law. Second, we will explore the law and political economy of labor, broadly defined to include forms of work that are free and unfree, paid and unpaid, and national and global.