ASA Session on “Organizations as Legal Persons

Happy New Year, All

With the ASA 2016 submission deadline just around the corner (specifically, 3:00pm EST on Wednesday, 1/6), we have so far received relatively few submissions to the joint OOW/Soc of Law session on “Organizations as Legal Persons.”  So we’re writing to remind you of the Call for Papers (appended below), and to encourage you to send in your work, if you have anything either written or in progress.  We welcome not only research manuscripts, but also research designs, talking points, theoretical reflections, and other expressions of interest.

Despite the prominence of such Supreme Court cases as “Citizens United” and “Hobby Lobby”, the changing socio-legal understanding of corporate personhood is a topic that has only recently forced itself into the public eye.  We hope that the upcoming ASA session will jump-start a serious sociological conversation on the subject, but we recognize that many researchers with relevant things to say may not yet have fully metabolized those things into their research pipeline.

So we see this ASA session as a forward-looking endeavor, and we are perfectly willing to entertain early drafts, thinkpieces, and agenda-setters, as well as more fully-formed empirical research papers.  If you have something that you’ve been mulling over, reading up on, or outlining, please don’t hesitate to send it in!  In the end, the session will be as open-ended or as formal as the submissions warrant; but we can’t know what you’re working on unless you share it with us.

Thank you for your submissions — whether already arrived or still on the way, and whether to this topical joint session or to the OOW open-submission sessions.  We look forward to reading your work — and to seeing you in Seattle next summer!

With best wishes,
The OOW 2016 Program Committee

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Organizations as Legal Persons
(co-sponsored by the Section on Sociology of Law and the Section on Organizations, Occupations and Work).

Recent legal decisions (such as Citizen’s United and Hobby Lobby), coupled with recent public debates about corporate and personal responsibility (such as the anti-sweatshop movement and the wave of “complicity” objections to providing services for same-sex marriages), suggest a profound rethinking of the legal and cultural relationship between organization as “legal persons” and the “natural persons” who own, run, work for, buy from, and live near them. We invite papers that explore these and related developments, situating corporate personhood in historical, political, cultural, theoretical and/or empirical context. What forces are driving the current reexamination of corporate personhood? How do recent developments relate to larger societal trends and historical legacies? What impacts are these developments likely to have, and what research agendas might they suggest?

Session Organizer: Mark C. Suchman, Brown University

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