LAWSG042 Law, Economics and Society: The Foundations of Capitalism

Credit value: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS, 150 learning hours)
Convenor: Ioannis Lianos
Other Teachers: Mihály Fazekas (Visiting Lecturer)
Guest Speakers
Teaching Delivery: 10 x 2-hour weekly lectures, Term One
Who may enrol: Any UCL Master’s student
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in Competition Law
LLM in Law and Economics
Introductory video
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one practice essay
Final Assessment: One 3,000-word essay (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

The course will provide students an advanced critical introduction to the interaction of law with economics and economic sociology and a taster for empirical approaches in studying the institutions of capitalism and the economic/social impact of the legal system. The course will examine the legal and economic foundations of capitalism in order to introduce participants to the intricacies of the legal-economic nexus in modern capitalist societies.

The first part of the course will explore the various strands of neo-liberal economic thought which has shaped legal systems around the world and heterodox alternatives. We will focus on the different perspectives brought in the conceptualization of property rights (including intellectual property), liability rules and regulatory alternatives. We will also explore the legal innovations that were put in place in order to facilitate the constitution of global markets and to support market transactions and will reflect on the way technology and drastic (or disruptive) innovation alters the economic and legal foundations of the capitalist system.

The second part of the course will delve into the conceptual and institutional foundations of a market economy. We will focus on the social construction of markets and their properties, as well as the market-making role of economists who devise innovative technical instruments (“market devices”) that intervene in the shaping and reshaping of markets and ensure their performance. We will explore how the legal system has assisted this market-creating effort so far, as well as the intense collaboration between different professions in order to ensure the performativity of markets. The recent turn of both economics and the law to promoting innovation will constitute the intellectual backbone of the course. In this effort we will explore the legal-economic nexus in various industries, such as finance, the food sector, biotechnology and pharma, among others. In addition to the classic legal texts, readings will include foundation texts in law and economics, science and technology studies, political economy, economic sociology, innovation economics and general sociology.

The third part of the course will introduce the students to data science and its relevance in legal research focusing on the use of big data for the fight against corruption and exploring the emergence of forensic data science used in a legal context. The course will briefly introduce the students to the basics of data science with the two tutorials serving as an introduction to the use of some statistical tools.

Learning Outcomes

Students will gain knowledge on:

  • The foundations of the capitalist system of production and consumption
  • The foundations of market institutions and of institutions supporting markets and innovation;
  • The foundations of economic sociology and sociology of markets
  • The foundations of data science analysis and its relevance for legal research;

Students will gain skills and abilities:

  • to use specific terms and sources of law and economics, economic sociology, Science and Technology studies and sociology of markets;
  • skills to analyze and solve cases, building up of the legal position and consideration of economic interests by taking an empirical studies perspective;
  • skills to design and manage an empirical studies project.
  • basic data analytics skills in order to understand empirical social science research
Module syllabus:

  1. Understanding human behavior: Passions and interests
  2. Economic Organization: markets, hierarchies and beyond
  3. Commodification, Evaluation, Commensurability: Markets and Property rights
  4. Firms, Competition and Cooperation
  5. Law and Technology: Science and Technology Studies 2.0
  6. Law & Economic Development: the Political Economy of Corruption
  7. The Jurisprudence of Money and Finance
  8. Regulation: Externalities
  9. Regulation: Behavioral economics & internalities
Recommended materials:

  • Bourdieu, P., (2005). The Social Structures of the Economy. (Polity Press)
  • Foucault, M. (2010). The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College De France, 1978-1979 (Palgrave MacMillan)
  • Granovetter, M. (2005). The Impact of Social Structures on Economic Outcomes. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(1), pp 33-50
  • Swedberg, R. (2003). Principles of Economic Sociology (Princeton University Press)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading:

  • Figstein, N. (2011). The Architecture of Markets – An Economic Sociology of Twenty-First Century Capitalist Societies. (Princeton University Press)