Private Law and the New Social Question
This review of Grundmann, Micklitz and Renner’s New Private Law Theory begins by noting its historical perspective, and the fruitfulness of setting alongside each other seminal writings of European jurists from the early twentieth century with the contributions of American law and economics and critical legal scholars from the late twentieth and early twenty-first. A century ago, legal scholarship was addressing the “social question:” How to accommodate private law to the demands of a rising working class? Today, steepening inequality and polarization have brought the social question, and with it class politics, back into view. Using as a case study the mass sackings engineered by the shipping company P&O in March 2022, we can see that today’s private law is deeply implicated in the generation of structural disadvantage. A private law more concerned with extracting and hiding wealth than creating it might be thought to have a limited future.
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