Political Economy and Law Working Group


A Political Economy and Law perspective stems from a critique of both a view of the economy and markets as spontaneously emerging orders that operate through naturally occurring forces, and a view of law as a neutral and impartial institution that operates independently of material processes and their concomitant relations of domination and power. Law (e.g. property law and property rights) has played an integral role in the historical configuration of capitalism and it also plays an important role in the configuration of variegated and actually existing manifestations of contemporary capitalist processes across national and local contexts, such as those associated with financialization, technology, rising precarities and inequalities, the governance of private and public debt, austerity and others. 

Hence, economic relations and historical trajectories of capitalism cannot be grasped without an understanding of their institutional and politico-legal underpinnings. Similarly, a comprehensive study of the role of law needs to take into account the economic and political structures and processes, together with the constitutive social relations that these engender and perpetuate. Indeed, economic and legal decisions do not happen in a social or political vacuum; on the contrary they are the product of historically and intersectionally constituted relations of power, hegemony, contestation and resistance, and they play an active role shaping them in return.  

Objectives of the WG

With this working group, we hope to spark a more systematic and thorough dialogue within the IIPPE that cuts across disciplinary boundaries to consider the intertwinement of contemporary political economy and the law. In particular, we are interested in the active role that the law and legal institutions, from above and below, play in constituting, structuring or contesting economic activity, markets, social and power relations, as well as the role that legal processes, categories and discourses play in shaping and constructing people’s experiences as well as their economic and social reality. We are interested in a theoretical and empirical dialogue across geographical contexts, combining perspectives from critical political economy, critical legal studies, law and society, the anthropology of law, institutional economics, Marxist legal theory, cultural studies and other pertinent fields and traditions. 

We believe that this is a particularly timely moment for the inauguration of a working group with this theme, given the great impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the economies and societies worldwide, the variegated governmental policy responses and the urgent need for an exploration of how these dynamics intersect with existing and ongoing policy and legal transformations at the local, national and international level.

Contribution and activities

We consider that the IIPPE is currently missing a dedicated forum to discuss law and political economy matters, despite growing interest in this topic, judging from presentations made at the 2021 IIPPE conference. We will strengthen and further these discussions and contribute both to the disciplines of law and political economy, through the annual IIPPE conference and other activities, in line with the IIPPE objectives. We also hope to serve as an ongoing community of sharing and exchange through a mailing list and social media. We believe that there is room for collaboration between this working group and other IIPPE WGs and we would be willing to explore the possibilities of organizing joint activities together, such as panels at the IIPPE conference, working paper series, and other events or workshops.


The working group is currently coordinated by IIPPE members:

Christina Sakali, Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University, Belgium

Angela Daly, Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, Law School, University of Dundee, UK

Mnqobi Ngubane, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

We welcome IIPPE members who wish to join the WG’s email list and our network.

Sign-up to our email list

Find us on social media: Twitter, Facebook

We are open to suggestions for activities to be organised as part of this WG, as well as interest from people willing to be part of the WG coordination team.