Academic Fads and Fashions (with Special Reference to Law)

21 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2001  

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: March 2001

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Law and Economics, Behavioral Economics, Academics

JEL Classification: K00, A2

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=262331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.262331

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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