The Fault of Law in (Social & Political) Economic Crisis

Type: 
Academic & Research
Audience: 
Open to the Public
Building: 
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Room: 
Popper Room
Date: 
Monday, November 19, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:10pm

About the lecture

It is a commonplace that the discipline of economics has contributed to current economic crisis in both its financial and sovereign variants. At the very least, the failure to alert governments and general public to impending collapse has cast a shadow on the discipline as a whole. At the worst, sections of economic methodology are charged with fatally inflating debt risk, such that collapse was the inevitable result. But what might be said of the role of law within this constellation? Certainly, much ink has been consumed detailing legal shortcomings within regulatory regimes, specifically those governing financial services. However, a full accounting has yet to be made of the broader fault which may also be attributed to the normative premises and methodologies of a ‘modern’ or ever increasingly post-national law. This contribution seeks to begin this accounting, investigating, in legal theory particular, the processes by which law has transformed itself into a ‘legal technology’ within international (economic) regimes, in its contemporary quest for ‘material’ legitimacy; or, has become a locus of power, which has similarly undermined the sphere of ‘the political’ within which social and economic stability can be defined and achieved. However, the story of legal failure is necessarily nuanced: modern law is not a hegemon with its own de-politicising agenda. Yet, at each level of constitutional, regulatory and private legal operation, modern legal rationalities have privileged the putative universalisms of ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’ thought, failing to understand that, even, and perhaps especially so, in a globalised era law can still only draw its legitimacy from its core procedural function of the constitution of the political. Law has overreached itself in acquiescing to the de-politicised normativisation of European Monetary Union. It has compromised itself within global regimes of risk regulation. It has similarly denuded the social and the political by redefining the global citizen as homo economicus. Contemporary national and, above all, post-national law must urgently reassess its normative and methodological character if it is to become a part of the solution to, rather than being a part of the problem of economic, social and political malaise.

About the lecturer

Michelle Everson, LLB (Exeter), PhD (EUI, Florence) is Professor of European Law in the School of Law, Birkbeck and Assistant Dean for Programme Development.

She has previously held posts as the Managing Editor of the European Law Journal at the European University Institute in Florence, as a lecturer in Law and Political Science at the University of Bremen and as a fellow at the Centre for European Legal Policy at the University of Bremen.

Currently, Michelle Everson also sits on the editorial boards of Law and Critique and the Journal for Socio-Legal Studies. She is also Vice-Chair of the Academic Board for Social Sciences of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.