Cheryl Wade, dre cummings and I have just posted a new law review article on SSRN that challenges mainstream corporate law scholars and teachers to think more deeply about the role of the modern public corporation in America and beyond. More specifically, we show that corporate law and regulation permits the corporation to operate as a key mechanism of: 1) racial and economic inequality, 2) the devolution of our political system towards a corporatocracy, 3) the continuation of mass incarceration, 4) the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, and 5) even the creeping privatization of education. The article just came out in the Washington University Law Review.
Here is the abstract:
In recent years, the publicly held corporation has assumed a central position in both the economic and political spheres of American life. Economically, the public corporation has long acted as the key institution within American capitalism. Politically, the public corporation now can use its economic might to sway electoral outcomes as never before. Indeed, individuals who control public firms wield more economic might and political power today than ever before. These truths profoundly shape American society. The power, control, and role of the public corporation under law and regulation, therefore, hold more importance than at any other time period.
Even though corporate law and regulation define all aspects of this central economic and political institution within the American system, the development of corporate law is impeded by a deficient pedagogy — and thus, to a certain degree, scholarship — that scarcely mentions the power and influence corporations hold. Critical voices, in particular, are excluded from virtually all corporate law textbooks. Many corporate law texts taught in law school classrooms treat the social role of the public corporation as a black box of corporate law pedagogy and, by extension, mainstream legal scholarship. Indeed, a relentless stream of legal scholarship challenging the law and regulation of the public firm from the perspective of its broader social and economic implications receives little to no mention in the key textbooks adopted and taught from in law schools today. This Article challenges the dominant corporate law master narrative perpetuated in all of the major business law textbooks. This master narrative prevents students of the law and legal scholars from fully understanding and analyzing the changing nature and evolution of law and power in the United States.