This course will examine the various roles that law and legal institutions play in economic, social, and political development in both theory and practice. Its goal is to introduce students to some of the canonical writings on the subject and to critically examine ongoing debates in policy circles and academia by questioning their theoretical foundations and practical implications. While much of the law and development literature focuses exclusively on developing countries, this course seeks to place the debate into a broader context and serves as an introduction to comparative legal institutional analysis.
The first part of the course will build on recent work in the area of legal institutionalism and introduce students to the notion that law and legal institutions are at the very heart of the development of modern capitalism. In the second part the course will offer a comparative analysis of selected legal institutions such as property, firms, finance, and human rights to explore the evolution of legal institutions and their different manifestation in different contexts. The third part will focus on the actors promoting legal development, including multilateral organizations, NGOs, bilateral aid organizations, and private actors.
Readings will draw heavily on work in the social sciences in addition to law. There are no formal prerequisites, but students should feel comfortable with working in an interdisciplinary fashion.