Category Archives: Books

New Book: Radical Markets, Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

radical markets - uprooting capitalism and democracy for a just societyNew Book: Eric A. Posner & E. Glen Weyl, Radical Markets, Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society (2018). Overview below:

Revolutionary ideas on how to use markets to bring about fairness and prosperity for all

Many blame today’s economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking–and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against—on its head. The book reveals bold new ways to organize markets for the good of everyone. It shows how the emancipatory force of genuinely open, free, and competitive markets can reawaken the dormant nineteenth-century spirit of liberal reform and lead to greater equality, prosperity, and cooperation.

Eric Posner and Glen Weyl demonstrate why private property is inherently monopolistic, and how we would all be better off if private ownership were converted into a public auction for public benefit. They show how the principle of one person, one vote inhibits democracy, suggesting instead an ingenious way for voters to effectively influence the issues that matter most to them. They argue that every citizen of a host country should benefit from immigration—not just migrants and their capitalist employers. They propose leveraging antitrust laws to liberate markets from the grip of institutional investors and creating a data labor movement to force digital monopolies to compensate people for their electronic data.

Only by radically expanding the scope of markets can we reduce inequality, restore robust economic growth, and resolve political conflicts. But to do that, we must replace our most sacred institutions with truly free and open competition—Radical Markets shows how.


New Book: Decolonizing Academia Poverty, Oppression and Pain

9781773630748_300_450_90New Book: Clelia O. Rodríguez, Decolonizing Academia Poverty, Oppression and Pain (2018). Overview below:

Refreshing and radical, Decolonizing Academia speaks to those who have been taught to doubt themselves because of the politics of censorship, violence and silence that sustain the Ivory Tower. Clelia O. Rodríguez illustrates how academia is a racialized structure that erases the voices of people of colour, particularly women, and their potential. She offers readers a gleam of hope through the voice of an inquisitorial thinker and methods of decolonial expression: poetry, art and reflections that encompass more than theory.

Decolonizing Academia is the voice of a Latinx academic mother passing on the torch to her Latinx offspring to use as a tool to not only survive academic spaces but also dismantle systems of oppression. Rodríguez presents ideas that many have tried to appropriate, ignore, erase and consume in the name of “research.” Her work is a survival guide for people of colour entering academia.

New Book: Collaborative Capitalism in American Cities: Reforming Urban Market Regulations

CC RashmiNew Book: Rashmi Dyal-Chand, Collaborative Capitalism in American Cities: Reforming Urban Market Regulations (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Overview below:

In many American cities, the urban cores still suffer. Poverty and unemployment remain endemic, despite policy initiatives aimed at systemic solutions. Rashmi Dyal-Chand’s research has focused on how businesses in some urban cores are succeeding despite the challenges. Using three examples of urban collaborative capitalism, this book extrapolates a set of lessons about sharing. It argues that sharing can fuel business development and growth. Sharing among businesses can be critical for their economic survival. Sharing can also produce a particularly stable form of economic growth by giving economic stability to employees. As the examples in this book show, sharing can allow American businesses to remain competitive while returning more wealth to their workers, and this more collaborative approach can help solve the problems of urban underdevelopment and poverty.

Editor’s Note: I am a huge fan of everything Rashmi does so even though I have not read this yet, I highly recommend this as a book that is sure to be great. Congrats Rashmi!

New Book: From Extraction to Emancipation: Development Reimagined

9781531010188New Book: From Extraction to Emancipation: Development Reimagined (Raquel Aldana & Steven W. Bender eds., 2018). Overview below:

With a distinguished and diverse group of contributors, this edited volume uses Guatemala as a case study to examine broad global themes arising from development practices in emerging economies. It offers important lessons to investors and policy makers on strategies to improve distributional justice and respect for the rule of law, including human rights and environmental norms. The book examines global themes such as climate change, extractive industries, labor regimes, and forced migration, all of which have transborder implications and across-border commonalities. Moving beyond identifying problems, the contributors focus on creative solutions to help developing nations and corporations engage in more sustainable business practices.

New Article: The Everyday Economic Violence of Black Life

New Article: Renee Hatcher, The Everyday Economic Violence of Black Life, Journal for Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, Volume 25, Number 3, 2017. Abstract below:

A book review of Ferguson’s Fault Lines by Kimberly Norwood. In analyzing the thirteen chapters, the review highlights the central themes of spatial racism, uneven development, and discriminatory practices in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis metropolitan region. In doing so, the review argues that discriminatory development practices create unequal access to education, employment, transportation, health outcomes, and life expectancies, based on race and zip code. These development practices also give rise to and enable discriminatory policing.

The review ultimately argues that state-sanctioned discriminatory policies of both physical and economic violence are intertwined, cyclical, and compounding. In looking to solutions, I advocate that community-driven strategies that address historical discrimination and inequality will move the needle towards progress. By the same token, local housing and development policy makers should employ a racial equity impact assessment for all future investments and policies and take affirmative action to address the geography of inequality that they have helped to create and sustain.

New Book: Moving toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing

MTI.jpgNew Book: Richard H. Sander, Yana A. Kucheva, and Jonathan M. Zasloff, Moving toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing (2018). Overview below:

Reducing residential segregation is the best way to reduce racial inequality in the United States. African American employment rates, earnings, test scores, even longevity all improve sharply as residential integration increases. Yet far too many participants in our policy and political conversations have come to believe that the battle to integrate America’s cities cannot be won. Richard SanderYana Kucheva, and Jonathan Zasloff write that the pessimism surrounding desegregation in housing arises from an inadequate understanding of how segregation has evolved and how policy interventions have already set many metropolitan areas on the path to integration.

Scholars have debated for decades whether America’s fair housing laws are effective. Moving toward Integration provides the most definitive account to date of how those laws were shaped and implemented and why they had a much larger impact in some parts of the country than others. It uses fresh evidence and better analytic tools to show when factors like exclusionary zoning and income differences between blacks and whites pose substantial obstacles to broad integration, and when they do not.

Through its interdisciplinary approach and use of rich new data sources, Moving toward Integration offers the first comprehensive analysis of American housing segregation. It explains why racial segregation has been resilient even in an increasingly diverse and tolerant society, and it demonstrates how public policy can align with demographic trends to achieve broad housing integration within a generation.

Summer Reading List for students interested in poverty law

A number of 1Ls have asked me for a summer reading list so I decided to put one on the blog. Feel free to add to the list in the comments. These are just the books I think would make for good summer reading. There are of course other good recent books, but they might be better for academics or academic study rather than summer reading (I am thinking of Karen Tani’s States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights, and American Governance, 1935-1972 (2016) and Anne Fleming’s City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance (2018), but maybe I am wrong, maybe those could be good for the 1L summer as well). My list, probably in order, is below:

  1. Jason DeParle, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare (2005) [a great way for students to both learn about welfare reform and about the lives of the poor].
  2. Kathryn Edin & H. Luke Shaeffer, $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2016) [interesting in its own right, but included here because its overview chapter at the beginning of the book is one of the best overviews of the history of welfare programs out there].
  3. Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016) [winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize, included third because it is likely assigned in many upper level poverty classes whereas the first two might not be assigned but are excellent]. My two reviews of this book are here: Yale Law Journal Forum & Fordham Urban Law Journal.
  4. James Forman, Jr., Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (2017) [winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize].
  5. Katherine Boo, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers (2014) [frankly, this is a placeholder; I think students should read one book at least about international poverty for perspective and this a good book to go with, but there are others for different parts of the world].
  6. Peter Edelman, So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America (2013) [a great march through all the ways the government fights against poverty and the history of that fight since President Johnson; a bit academic for summer reading but short enough to be accessible].

[Of course, if you want to break free from poverty books, I am a huge fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera, John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River (for those who have already read Garp), and the novels of Martin Cruz Smith, starting with Gorky Park.]

New Book: Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty

COVER_PlacesinNeedNew Book: Scott W. Allard, Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty (2017). Overview below:

Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In Places in Need, social policy expert Scott W. Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.

Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates. As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers—which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command—do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.

To strengthen local safety nets, Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.

Places in Need demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective antipoverty strategies.

New Book: “The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America”

9780691177663New Book: Robert Wuthnow, The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America (2018). Overview below:

How a fraying social fabric is fueling the outrage of rural Americans

What is fueling rural America’s outrage toward the federal government? Why did rural Americans vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump? And, beyond economic and demographic decline, is there a more nuanced explanation for the growing rural-urban divide? Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Robert Wuthnow brings us into America’s small towns, farms, and rural communities to paint a rich portrait of the moral order–the interactions, loyalties, obligations, and identities—underpinning this critical segment of the nation. Wuthnow demonstrates that to truly understand rural Americans’ anger, their culture must be explored more fully.

We hear from farmers who want government out of their business, factory workers who believe in working hard to support their families, town managers who find the federal government unresponsive to their communities’ needs, and clergy who say the moral climate is being undermined. Wuthnow argues that rural America’s fury stems less from specific economic concerns than from the perception that Washington is distant from and yet threatening to the social fabric of small towns. Rural dwellers are especially troubled by Washington’s seeming lack of empathy for such small-town norms as personal responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and common sense. Wuthnow also shows that while these communities may not be as discriminatory as critics claim, racism and misogyny remain embedded in rural patterns of life.

Moving beyond simplistic depictions of the residents of America’s heartland, The Left Behind offers a clearer picture of how this important population will influence the nation’s political future.

New Book: “The Desire for Mutual Recognition”

DMRNew Book: Peter Gabel, The Desire for Mutual Recognition (Routledge 2018). Overview below:

The Desire for Mutual Recognition is a work of accessible social theory that seeks to make visible the desire for authentic social connection, emanating from our social nature, that animates all human relationships.

Using a social-phenomenological method that illuminates rather than explains social life, Peter Gabel shows how the legacy of social alienation that we have inherited from prior generations envelops us in a milieu of a “fear of the other,” a fear of each other. Yet because social reality is always co-constituted by the desire for authentic connection and genuine co-presence, social transformation always remains possible, and liberatory social movements are always emerging and providing us with a permanent source of hope. The great progressive social movements for workers’ rights, civil rights, and women’s and gay liberation, generated their transformative power from their capacity to transcend the reciprocal isolation that otherwise separates us. These movements at their best actually realize our fundamental longing for mutual recognition, and for that very reason they can generate immense social change and bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

Gabel examines the struggle between desire and alienation as it unfolds across our social world, calling for a new social-spiritual activism that can go beyond the limitations of existing progressive theory and action, intentionally foster and sustain our capacity to heal what separates us, and inspire a new kind of social movement that can transform the world.

-Thanks to Duncan Kennedy for the heads up!