Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion

  • 2019 May 03

    Conference | Law, Inequality and the Politics of Moral Worth

    8:30am to 6:00pm

    Location: 

    CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Belfer Case Study Room (S020)

    Presented by the Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion.

    8:30–9:00    Continental breakfast (provided)

    9:00–9:30    Introductory remarks

    Michèle Lamont, Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies; Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, Department of Sociology, and African and African American Studies, Harvard University.

    Talia Shiff, Raphael Morrison Dorman Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow, Weatherhead Scholars Program, Harvard University.

    9:30–11:00    Session I: Law and Social Inequality at Multiple Registers

    Leading Questions: What are the promises and pitfalls of legal interventions in redressing social inequalities? When do rules and legal procedures aimed at ensuring formal rights work in practice to sustain inequities and to produce further recognition gaps?

    Commentator: Paige Sweet, Postdoctoral Fellow with the Inequality in American Initiative, Harvard University.

    “Rights, Proceduralism and Social Inequality”
    Heather Schoenfeld, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Boston University.

    “The Road to Recognition: Afro-Uruguayan Struggle for Visibility, Equality, and Reparation”
    Debbie Sharnak, Lecturer, History and Literature, Harvard University.

    “Race, Place, and Crime: How Violent Crime Events Affect Employment Discrimination”
    Sanaz Mobasseri, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations, Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

    11:00–12:30    Session II: Perceptions of the Social World, or Seeing in and through Legal Categories

    Leading Questions: What is captured by official legal categories? What formatting of identity and experience is required for inclusion in legal categorization? Are all experiences or identities commensurable, or do some of them fall outside of law’s vision? How does the institutionalization of legal categories intersect with broader cultural repertoires and historical zeitgeists?

    Commentator: Anna Skarpelis, Postdoctoral Fellow, Reischauer Institute, Harvard University.

    “Gender Neutral Pronouns, Cultural Inclusion and Social Equality” Abigail Saguy, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Department of Sociology, UCLA.
    Juliet Williams, Professor of Gender Studies and Chair of the UCLA Social Science Interdepartmental Program, University of California Los Angles.

    “In the Shadow of the State: Symbolic Power, Social Inequality, and the Institutionalization of Social Categories”
    Ellis Monk, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.

    “The Judicial Politics of Religious Difference in Western Europe: Socio-Legal Field Dynamics and the Standardization of Justificatory Repertoires”
    Matthias Koenig, Professor of Sociology, University of Göttingen. Max Planck Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity.

    12:30–1:30    Lunch Break (CGIS Knafel Building, Room K354) 1:30-3:30    Session III: Law and Notions of Worth

    Leading Questions: What is the relation between law and shared cultural understandings of worth? To what extent, and under what conditions, does law reinforce, or alternatively alter, gendered and racialized biases and embedded moral boundaries? How does the relationship between values and worth play out in legal settings?

    Commentator: Susan Silbey, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Sociology and Anthropology Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    “Transformative Effects of Immigration Law in Hostile Contexts”
    Cecilia Menjívar, Professor and Dorothy L. Meier Social Equities Chair, Department of Sociology, University of California Los Angeles.

    “Legal Standards and Moral Worth in Frontline Decision-Making: Evaluations of Deservingness in US Asylum Determinations”
    Talia Shiff, Raphael Morrison Dorman Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow, Weatherhead Scholars Program, Harvard University.

    “Can Law Mitigate the Motherhood/Leavetaker Penalty?”
    Catherine Albiston, Professor of Law and Sociology, Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program, Berkeley School of Law, University of California.

    3:30–4:00    Coffee Break (provided)

    4:00–5:30    Session IV: Legal Cynicism and Everyday Reliance on Law’s Promises

    Leading questions: When does law’s failure to meet its own promises lead to legal
    cynicism? How do we explain actors continued reliance on, and embracement of, the law in light of law’s broken promises of equal citizenship?

    Commentator: Michèle Lamont, Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies; Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, Department of Sociology, and African and African American Studies, Harvard University

    “The Particular Disadvantages of Universal Rules: How the Legal Turn in Medicine Creates Winners and Losers”
    Carol Heimer, Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University; Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation.

    “Recognition Gaps and Economies of Worth in Police-Resident Encounters”
    Ron Levi, George Ignatieff Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies, Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology; Director of Global Strategy, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

    “Law’s Exclusions and Affordances”
    Sally Merry, Silver Professor of Anthropology, NYU College of Arts and Sciences; Faculty Director, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law.

    5:30–6:00    Concluding Remarks

    6:30    Dinner for Workshop Participants