Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Stuck in Forward? Debt, Austerity and the Possibilities of the Political

Law Review Symposium - Stuck in Forward? Debt, Austerity and the Possibilities of the Political

ClassCrits VI Workshop
presented by
Southwestern Law Review

November 15-16, 2013

Sponsored by
The Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy at SUNY Buffalo
and UC Davis School of Law

Keynote Speaker
Professor Akhil Gupta, Director of the Center for India
and South Asia, University of California, Los Angeles

Click here for the full schedule

Location | About ClassCrits

Printable Brochure (PDF)

The economic crisis of 2008 was a referendum on the failures of deregulation and neoliberal ideology all over the world. Far from being a sophisticated mechanism to absorb and diffuse systemic economic risk, the crisis exposed a fragile global financial system characterized by dysfunctional imbalances of increasingly precarious and largely unregulated risk societies.

In the United States, the social contract of class mobility and the "American Dream" financed with "easy" credit was exposed as an empty promise. In the European context, the sovereign debt crisis resulted in the imposition of draconian austerity measures in several nation-states, like Greece, undermining social safety nets and wage structures, rupturing traditional alliances, and driving down individual standards of living.

At the same time, the Occupy Movement - and similar movements across the globe - refocused attention on socio-economic inequality for the first time in decades. The old ways of seeing things proved inadequate for framing the changing realities of the new post-recession world. But whatever the initial shock to the social order, political and financial elites everywhere have since doubled down on the failed neoliberal project with a mania for balancing budgets in the name of discredited austerity policies which have only accelerated neoliberalism's upward transfer and concentration of wealth and intensified the class stratification in contemporary global societies.

Stuck in the grip of austerity groupthink and faced with nation states captured by elite interests - a trend only made worse in the United States by Citizens United - any movement forward will require creatively leveraging national political and legal systems as instruments for progressive economic change and deleveraging social class divides.

What are the possibilities and alternatives for a genuinely progressive economic project in an age of resurgent neoliberal policies and politics, worldwide shifts in population and demographics, and hegemonic economics? How can we address the challenges of our age including, but not limited to: globalization; shifting power relationships between the developed world and formerly "third world" countries; massive intergenerational and upward transfers of wealth; abject poverty; staggering debt; wage stagnation; a declining middle class; an increasingly dysfunctional food system; and environmental and climate risks that will require concerted national and international efforts.

Stuck in Forward? Debt, Austerity and the Possibilities of the Political will address these questions by bringing together scholars, economists, activists, policymakers, and others to critically examine and take stock of who wins, who loses, how the law facilitates the hierarchical and spatial distribution of winners and losers, and how we may use law and politics to develop both real and utopian interstitial spaces of classlessness within the new post-recession global order.

Registration Fees

  • $75 - CLE credit: Non-Southwestern Alumni
  • $50 - CLE credit: Southwestern Alumni/members of sponsoring organizations
  • No Charge - Attendees not seeking CLE credit


Southwestern Law School is located at 3050 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. The entrance to the parking lot is located on Wilshire Place just north of Seventh Street. For a map and directions to Southwestern, click here. Parking is available on campus for $9.

CLE Credit

This Symposium offers 7.5 hours of CLE credit for Friday and 7.75 hours of CLE credit for Saturday. Southwestern is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.


Contact the Law Review Office or the Student Affairs Office.

About ClassCrits

ClassCrits is a network of scholars and activists interested in critical analysis of law and the economy. The global economic crisis, along with growing economic inequality and insecurity, suggests it is time to explore alternatives to the neoclassical or "free market" economic paradigm, often identified with the U.S. "Law and Economics" movement. The aim is to revive discussions of questions of class pushed to the margins or relegated to the shadowy past, considering the possible meaning and relevance of economic class to the contemporary context. The hope is to better integrate the rich diversity of economic methods and theories into law by exploring and engaging non-neoclassical and heterodox economics.

The name "ClassCrits" reflects an interest in focusing on economics through the lens of critical legal scholarship movements, such as critical legal studies, critical feminist theory, critical race theory, LatCrit, and queer theory. That is, start with the assumption that economics in law is inextricably political and fundamentally tied to questions of systemic status-based subordination. The ClassCrits group, and the blog in particular, hopes to start a discussion that puts economic inequality at the center rather than at the margins of mainstream law.