Organization Life and Critical Legal Thought: A Psychopolitical Inquiry and Argument


What next for critical movements in legal academia? Is there currently an opportunity for such movements – including critical legal studies, which has never been identified with a broad political struggle in the way that critical race studies and feminist criticism have been – to supplement critical commentary on law, legalism, and liberalism with creative radical theorizing and with proposals for change in the practice of law and in society as a whole? In that connection, is there a viable response to the powerful concerns over macro-level legal and political radicalism: that moving the world, or even the legal profession, too far from where it is entails unacceptable collective coercion; that those in charge will justify and aggrandize themselves under any system; that the task of critical legal movements is always to remain in opposition to the self-justification and self-aggrandizement of powerholders?

The aim of this Article is to provide a response to these questions concerning legal oppositionism, which have already occasioned a considerable reflective literature, by relating them to another set of questions that may on the surface appear unrelated. The second set of questions concerns life in organizations – law firms, banks, factories, universities, etc. How are troubling features of organization life, such as hierarchical division and the identification of one’s self as a whole with one’s job role, understood and justified or at least excused by participants? What determines the current balance in our lives between the particular practices and values of organization life and other practices and values? Should the centrality of organization life in relation to our lives as a whole be changed? By responding to these questions, we can, I will suggest, think about legal oppositionism and its possibilities in a different and fruitful way. In questioning the centrality of organization life, we can begin to envision a project of macro-level as well as micro-level social change that is closely connected to rather than discordant with legal oppositionist concerns.

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Panel I: Defund Means Defund Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with