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Academic Fads and Fashions (with Special Reference to Law)

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School

March 2001

Forthcoming Michigan Law Review, foreword to book review issue

Like everyone else, academics are susceptible to informational and reputational signals. Sometimes academics lack confidence in their methods and beliefs, and they pay a great deal of attention to the methods and beliefs of others. The academic study of law is particularly subject to cascade effects, as people follow signals that they participate in amplifying. Some of these effects run their course quickly, whereas others last a long time. Leaders can play a special role in starting and stopping cascades; external shocks play a special role in the academic study of law; sometimes like-minded people within academia move one another to extremes. This informal essay, the Foreword to the forthcoming annual book review issue of the Michigan Law Review, discusses these points in a tentative and impressionistic way, with brief comparisons to other fields.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: Law and Economics, Behavioral Economics, Academics

JEL Classification: K00, A2

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Date posted: March 9, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., Academic Fads and Fashions (with Special Reference to Law) (March 2001). Forthcoming Michigan Law Review, foreword to book review issue. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=262331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.262331

Contact Information

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)
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