ClassCrits VII Call for Papers & Participation, Nov. 14-15, 2014 U.C. Davis

ClassCrits VII,  Poverty, Precarity, and Work: Struggle and Solidarity in an Era of Permanent(?) Crisis, Sponsored by U.C. Davis School of Law, Davis, CA,  November 14-15, 2014.   See below and top bar for more details on the theme, possible topics, and logistics.

We invite panel proposals and paper presentations that speak to this year’s theme as well as to general ClassCrits themes. In addition, we extend a special invitation to junior scholars (i.e., graduate students or any non-tenured faculty member) to submit proposals for works in progress. A senior scholar as well as other scholars will comment upon each work in progress in a small, supportive working session.

Please submit your proposal by email to classcrits@gmail.com by May 23, 2014. Proposals should includethe author’s name, institutional affiliation and contact information, the title of the paper to be presented, and an abstract of the paper to be presented of no more than 750 words. Junior scholar submissions for works in progress should be clearly marked as “JUNIOR SCHOLAR WORK IN PROGRESS PROPOSAL.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson’s declaration of a “War on Poverty,” and the establishment of the first Neighborhood Legal Services Program pilot in Washington, D.C. Each of these initiatives attempted to address problems of structural economic inequality—problems that remain with us nationally and internationally . The seventh meeting of ClassCrits will focus on work, poverty, and resistance in an age of increasing economic insecurity. Continue reading

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ClassCrits VII conference SAVE THE DATE Nov. 14-15 2014

The University of California Davis School of Law will host the ClassCrits VII Workshop on November 14-15, 2014.  A Call for Papers & Participation will be circulated in early March.  As in past years, the Workshop will also extend a special invitation to junior scholars (graduate students and non-tenured faculty members) to submit proposals for works in progress. 

 

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Call for Papers: Vulnerability, Resilience, and Public Responsibility for Social and Economic Justice

Vulnerability, Resilience, and Public Responsibility for Social and Economic Justice
June 13-14, 2014 in Buffalo, NY
A Vulnerability and the Human Condition Workshop at SUNY Buffalo Law School

Email proposals (abstracts of a few paragraphs are fine) as a Word or PDF document by February 24, 2014 to Yvana Mols, ymols@emory.edu

Decisions will be made by March 7, 2014 and working paper drafts will be due May 19 so they can be duplicated and distributed prior to the Workshop.

The U.S. welfare state has long been the focus of competing understandings of human dependency and vulnerability. In a paradigm-shifting response to the 1930s economic crisis, the New Deal emphasized strong public responsibility for achieving economic growth, stability, and protection. From 1945 through 1975, the idea that the federal government has an obligation to protect farmers, families, business and labor against the risks of living and working in an industrial society gained ground. Politically liberal ideas pressed by vigorous social movements expanded the welfare state, gradually providing a degree of economic security for the poor and the middle class. During these years of economic growth, increased federal spending provided health, education, housing, social service, infrastructure, and other resources that enabled individuals, families and communities to “manage [their] common vulnerabilities” from cradle to grave. The paradigm shift remained incomplete, contested and often theoretically and practically unclear, particularly along race, class, and gender divides. Nonetheless, the expanded welfare state represented major steps away from the laissez-faire vision that blamed and punished victims of social and economic forces beyond individual control toward recognition of the need and value of public or collective responsibility for society generally and each of its members individually.

The second major economic crisis of the 20th century began in the mid-1970s and led to a U-turn in public policy. Interpreting the New Deal paradigm as hindering economic recovery, leaders imposed neoliberal policies that valorized a private market and “meritocracy” and called for smaller government and return to the laissez fare ideal in which individuals and families were seen as primarily responsible for securing their own well-being. Neoliberal policies include (1) retrenchment of social welfare programs, (2) tax cuts, especially for the wealthy and for corporations, (3) devolution of socioeconomic responsibilities away from the federal government to the states (though combined with increased international regulatory protection for capital interests and corporations), (4) privatization that shifts responsibility for the general welfare from the state to the private market, (5) and new legal and economic barriers to social movements and collective action resisting these policies. The resulting upward redistribution of resources and protections- both public and private-has been accompanied by sharply rising rates of poverty, unemployment, and inequality and dwindling support for housing, education, health, and other critical resources. However, the call for limited government has not precluded major expansions of governmental activity in two significant areas: providing benefits and protections for globally mobile corporations and capital interests and generating policies and practices that have led to mass incarceration. Both expansions have profoundly affected communities defined by race and poverty.

This workshop seeks to use the vulnerability lens to explore insights and create opportunities that might develop the concepts and vocabulary to allow us to confront foundational neoliberal assumptions and move to a paradigm that emphasizes the universality, constancy, and inevitability of human dependency and vulnerability. How can we frame arguments for the state and its institutions to provide true equality of access and opportunity so that everyone can gain the resilience necessary to manage life’s crises and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves over the life course?
Guiding Questions:
•    What are the contradictions and tensions that shape the welfare state?
•    How have these tensions materialized over time and what kind of struggles have they sparked?
•    How should we understand the state and its responsibilities toward society’s institutions and individuals?
•    What role should state control or regulation play in monitoring (and defining) “responsible” behavior in regard to social and economic well-being?
•    What is the relationship between economic and social justice and other forms of justice (civil, criminal, political, gender)?
•    How should we understand the relationship between the state, human beings, and inhuman subjects – such as corporations – and what responsibilities and rights should follow from these privatized collective economic entities?
•    How can we address neoliberal assumptions about the human condition, the role of the market and the role of the state?
•    How can we counter the demonization of the poor as “takers”; welfare queens; oversexed; lazy and dependent?
•    How can we unmask the privileges conferred by privatization and valorization of a “free market,” cast as essential for efficiency, productivity, and economic growth?
•    Is it possible to reconcile the concepts of vulnerability and dependency with ideas of liberty, choice and autonomy?
•    How effectively do current organized efforts at resistance address the failure of the neoliberal state to recognize and respond to dependency and vulnerability as fundamental components of the human conditions?

Vulnerability and Resilience Background Reading at: http://web.gs.emory.edu/vulnerability
Workshop Co-Organizers:  Martha Albertson Fineman, mlfinem@emory.edu ; Mimi Abramovitz, iabramov@hunter.cuny.edu ; Martha McCluskey, mcclusk@buffalo.edu

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Fineman responds to the Porsche argument against maternity coverage

Lest you think free market economists give no thought to fairness — or have little compassion for underinsured Americans — Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw recently worried that purchasers of individual health insurance can no longer choose to forgo the luxury of health insurance coverage for pregnancy and childbirth (Is Community Rating Fair? Nov. 11, 2013). Emory University Law Professor Martha Fineman thoroughly takes apart his faulty assumptions in an essay in the Guardian, Dec. 1, 2013, excerpted below:

Having a child is nothing like deciding to buy a Porsche

..Republican outrage over the inclusion of mandatory maternity coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues. Greg Mankiw, ….wrote on his blog Random Observations for Students of Economics:

People who drive a new Porsche pay more for car insurance than those who drive an old Chevy. We consider that fair because which car you drive is a choice. Why isn’t having children viewed in the same way?
His use of this analogy reveals the simplistic mindset behind the “free market” criticism of ACA’s maternity care mandate.

First, while Mankiw concedes that the “goal is to spread the risk of childbirth among the larger community”, he conveniently fails to note that the maternity coverage mandate serves to eliminate price disparities between the insurance premiums for men and women prevalent before ACA. From a policy perspective, even if an individual woman can choose whether or not to have a baby, the prior system placed the costs for childbearing exclusively on women.
Second, … Cars are not equivalent to children. Children are human beings, a fact that distinguishes the choice to have a child from the whims of the auto enthusiast. ….

But, putting aside these vital points, let’s analyze Mankiw’s analogy on his own terms: is it unfair to treat a choice to have a child differently from any other consumer decision, specifically the preference for a Porsche? …. Republicans have made their preference on this type of policy question very clear: if you can afford a Porsche or to have a child, fine, but don’t expect the rest of us to chip in.
In considering the justness of this analogy, we might first ask whether parents should only be viewed as consumers of children. For the sake of an accurate analogy they should also be thought of as producers of children.

… The production costs for the producers of Porsches and other consumer goods are subsidized – heavily, through regulatory measures such as tariff and tax policy and lax labor laws disfavoring unions. It’s also done directly through incentives such as when communities bid for location of plants or lawmakers slash taxes and make infrastructure investments facilitating distribution of goods, or provide other services designed to entice businesses interested in lower production costs and higher corporate profits…..

Of course, society also subsidizes child production, but in doing so relies primarily on the concepts of the “private family” and “individual responsibility” in which public provision of benefits is not considered investment, but stigmatized as connoting dependency. Even public provision of education is under attack by fiscal conservatives and those who would privatize anything that could be turned into individual profit. The business of child rearing simply does not evoke the largesse afforded to the business of car (or many other forms of) manufacturing, and what subsidies currently exist are subject to constant scrutiny and cost-cutting measures….

One could analogize a different comparison between consumers of Porsches and consumers of the next generation. Reaping the benefits, but not sharing in the costs of the reproduction of society is the equivalent of the state and market institutions stealing lovingly created and skillfully constructed Porsches. At a minimum, the term “freeloaders” seems applicable here.

Mankiw’s simplistic resort to analogy to address serious and complex social issues obscures the substantially unfair ways parents and children are treated in our society. A cavalier “let them drive Porsches” response to the needs of parents trying to raise children in a country with growing poverty, increasing food insecurity, failing public schools, diminished opportunity and access should make us angry.
Children deserve our investment in terms of both money and effort. This is an obligation we collectively owe, not only to our own children, but to all children. The growth in inequality that has resulted from our losing sight of this fundamental principle of social justice profoundly undermines the future possibilities for our nation’s children and, therefore, the future of the nation itself.”

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Thanks to Southwestern Law School, host of ClassCrits VI Conference

Kudos and great thanks to Southwestern Law School for fabulously hosting the ClassCrits conference this past weekend.  Besides providing superb logistical support from first rate staff, Southwestern set the right tone for our discussions by providing an environment shining with diversity, innovative scholarship, and engaged students (and we could not have had a more beautiful law school setting than Southwestern’s historic art deco building).  A highly professional team of Southwestern Law Review student editors, who will publish selected papers in a symposium issue of their journal, contributed with exemplary professionalism throughout the conference – showing up at 7am with enthusiasm at the conference hotel to guide visiting participants, directing us and staffing registration throughout the day and best of all joining us in exploring the challenging theoretical and practical questions of panel discussions.   Southwestern faculty also contributed a wealth of expertise and energy with their active participation in many panels, and lead organizer, Southwestern Law Professor Danielle Kie Hart combined intellectual vision with outstanding administrative skill to take us in important new directions – not only producing the law review publication but also including community advocates, for example.

  Thanks also to SUNY Buffalo’s Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy and to the University of California Davis School of Law for their financial support of this event, representing institutional leadership in cutting edge scholarship in pursuit of justice.

    This institutional leadership, and the brilliance, community spirit and commitment to justice of so many participants, was particularly inspiring in this time when vocal critics of legal education are pushing for an increased hierarchy in the profession, insisting that only well-pedigreed elites are worthy of tackling big questions about law and society.   A panel on “Unequal Education” confronted that criticism head on, with Julie Nice (San Francisco Law) analyzing the celebrity faultfinding as a movement with the effect, if not the self-serving purpose, of limiting working class access to the legal profession, in reaction to the substantial evidence of great success and leadership over recent decades from less privileged law graduates and law schools.   Nice, along with audience commentators, emphasized that countering this effort to re-stratify the profession must involve working together across institutional rankings to emphasize that the value of law is less about earning high salaries and more about advancing justice to benefit society.  Lucy Jewel (University of Tennessee Law) astutely developed this theme in her paper, Tales of a Fourth Tier Nothing, a Response to Brian Tamanaha’s Failing Law Schools, tying current criticism to earlier, overt efforts to construct a gender, class and race-based two-tier profession and illuminating the cultural benefits of broad access to law school.  Jewel’s paper also notes that defending working class access to the profession requires resisting efforts to casualize legal skills teaching and to divide teaching from scholarship. The panel also included crucial contributions from Victoria Haneman (University of Nevada Las Vegas Law) on the importance of analyzing the student debt forgiveness schemes and Terry Smith and Sumi Cho (DePaul University Law) on the role of faculty governance in defending faculty diversity.   The panel also emphasized that concern for student debt should be directed toward increasing support for education access rather than for exclusion.  That topic was the main focus of a panel organized by Martha Mahoney (Miami Law), with analysis of federal loan policy by Isaac Bowers of Equal Justice Works, and featuring groundbreaking research by Miami law students about innovative ways of assisting indebted students in reducing their costs and resisting arguably deceptive practices by the burgeoning loan servicing industry that profits from student debt.   

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ClassCrits VI Conference Nov. 15-16 Southwestern Law School, L.A.

We are excited about our upcoming conference, Stuck in Forward? Debt, Austerity and the Possibilities of the Political at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, Nov. 15-16 2013. See www.swlaw.edu/classcritsvi for the latest event information.

While the deadline for papers has closed, we have openings for moderators and works-in-progress commentators. Contact classcrits@gmail.com if you have questions or see the web link above.

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ClassCrits Conference Extended Deadline for Papers

CALL FOR PAPERS & PARTICIPATION 

ClassCrits VI

Stuck in Forward?

Debt, Austerity and the Possibilities of the Political

Sponsored by

Southwestern Law School &

U.C. Davis School of Law

Los Angeles, CA    * November 15-16, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Professor Akhil Gupta, Department of Anthropology

Director, Center for India and South Asia, University of California, Los Angeles

 Proposal Submission Procedure and EXTENDED Deadline
Please submit your proposal by email to classcrits@gmail.com by May 15, 2013.  Proposals should include the author’s name, institutional affiliation and contact information, the title of the paper to be presented, and an abstract of the paper to be presented of no more than 750 words.  Junior scholar submissions for works in progress should be clearly marked as “JUNIOR SCHOLAR WORK IN PROGRESS PROPOSAL.”

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