Law and the Political Economy

Glasshouse small in B&WWe are a group of researchers studying law in the context of contemporary political economy.   Our work bridges different fields of economic regulation and governance - labour law and labour markets, corporate governance, financial law, central bank laws and monetary policy - and different methodological and theoretical approaches.  What we share is a commitment to generating insight into the legal, social, and political nature of the question of how markets are constituted, and into how social institutions and modes of action and interaction might offer important potential for the re-design, re-set, and reform of economic institutions.  We carry out this work against the backdrop of the current era of financial crisis and austerity, as well as the immunisation of neoclassical economics and legal methodologies and processes cast within their grain.  We want to dig out and complicate questions all too often silenced by the persistent drive to marketisation, to reflect on the all-important framing conditions and on how law might ‘think’ the economy anew. 

‌Picture: (c) Jane Couroussopoulos

We are committed to research-led teaching.  Research carried out within the different projects on Law and the Political Economy informs an honours level course on the subject, as well as feeds into our wider teaching in Labour Law, European Law, and Corporate Governance. You can find out about the projects and publications within each stream by clicking on the links below. 

Law and Markets

Considerable attention is paid by governments, regulators, and legal scholars to questions of how law can be used to improve the governance of markets, such as through the introduction of financial regulations, or by strengthening social and economic rights to achieve desirable social ends.  Projects in this stream seek to explore the myriad ways in which markets are already predicated upon and operationalised through legal regimes that are rarely problematised, or even visible, in regulatory approaches to market governance, such as through contract law, or through criminal law. Researchers in this stream are also in dialogue with economic theory, and with other scholarly traditions that seek to understand the nature of markets and their roles in society. 


Social Rights, Crisis and Austerity

This group of projects analyses the complex and multi-layered relationship between social rights and markets.  We are interested in how the relationship between social rights and markets might be conceptualised, and how conflict and competition between the two might be theorised.  


Theorising Corporate Governance

This project has a past/present and a future aspect to it. In the past/present, it has looked at how the company takes up space in the world, and the kinds of values and projects to which it is willing to be ‘connected’. The problem of ‘corporate social responsibility’ has been of particular interest, as a test of the extent and manner in which social and environmental values might be admitted or addressed by calculative rationalities.