Introducing Classcrits: From Class Blindness to a Critical Legal Analysis of Economic Inequality
55 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2012
Date Written: 2008
In 2007, two workshops at the University at Buffalo launched a project bringing together legal scholars interested in exploring the relationship between law and economic inequality. This article provides an overview of the workshops’ key understandings and discussions. The essay suggests that these understandings, informed by critical legal scholarship, constituted a set of shared assumptions among the participants and informed the groups’ rejection of class blindness, a society-wide blindness to the existence and use of economic power. Discussing some of the functional similarities of gender, race and class blindness, the article argues that feminist and critical race scholars’ critiques of gender and color blindness, in particular, likely further informed the workshop participants’ rejection of class blindness and their intuition that class blindness aids in maintaining and perpetuating economic inequality.
Although the workshop groups did not definitively define class, this essay further suggests that the participants established the directions in which the analysis might go. That is, they began the work of framing a classcrit analysis. Such an analysis employs the outlook and tools of critical thought, utilizes a relational understanding of class and economic inequality, and applies an intersectional approach.
Ultimately, the consideration of class relations at the time of the discussions seemed a bit strange to some, given that class analyses in the American legal context were viewed - at best - as inapplicable to the U.S., but in any event, discredited. However, such a consideration shortly thereafter seemed far less preposterous, given the near collapse of the financial market in the middle of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, a collapse and its aftermath that have since revealed in full relief the privileges and excesses of economic power.
Keywords: economic inequality, law and economics, class, race, colorblindness, gender, critical legal studies, critical race theory, intersectionality, financial crisis of 2008
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