Friday October 16, 2015 at 4:00 PM EDT
Saturday October 17, 2015 at 5:00 PM EDT

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Emory Law School, Gambrell Hall 
1301 Clifton Road
Faculty Lounge, Gambrell Hall 575
Atlanta, GA 30322

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The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative 
The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative 

Workshop at the Intersection of the Changing Firm and the Changing Family 

Questions of inevitable and derivative human dependency have been central to the Feminist Legal Theory Project for much of its thirty years of existence. Theories of dependency reveal the limitations that attend the relationship between dichotomies such as private/public, market/family, and care/work, which largely define what are public as contrasted with private responsibilities and what constitutes autonomy, self-sufficiency, and liberty. Feminists have long critiqued these dichotomies as enshrining inequality and obscuring both the social benefits and burdens of caretaking.

This workshop will connect institutional and human vulnerability in the context of work, family, neoliberalism and the new information age. It will consider the implications for critical theory of large-scale changes in the structure of wage labor and employment that place an ideal of stable self-sufficiency beyond the reach of many. The manufacturing era was characterized by the rise of the large firm (which achieved a measure of insulation from market forces), the countervailing force of unions, and the spread of secure employment paying a “family wage.” In contrast, the new information age and its attending forces of globalization and technological change have produced a deepened volatility for companies and workers alike and created a broad series of effects and risks at the intersection of the changing firm and the changing family.

Globalization and other forms of neoliberal restructuring facilitate increasingly rapid movement of materials, labor, and financing among different countries, allowing greater circumvention of national and regional regulations. The deregulation of financial systems intensifies pressure to focus on short-term measures of success and increases the influence of powerful and nimble actors. Technological changes reduce the need for labor. Such transformations initiate less investment in employees and fewer structures that protect against the discriminatory treatment of workers. Corporate organization is more fluid, as companies more quickly dissolve and reconstitute themselves. The result is greater instability in employment tenure, greater income inequality, and less reliable benefits.