Abstract Human individuals are unable to form a society unless they comply with the logic of inter-diction, which enables them to exchange words rather than blows. Democratic society emerged from a rather marginal practice of people coming together to form “speech assemblies”, and deciding on the rules to be binding on all the members. This institutional arrangement, which is precarious because based on an ethics of citizenship which itself relies on education, financial independence in and through work, and respect for the truth, both separates and carefully articulates the political sphere, where issues of public interest are debated; the economic sphere where private interests are pursued; and the sphere of dogmatic Reference (religion in its original legal sense), which is both the source of meaning and the guarantor of the trustworthiness of the pledged word, whether in a commercial or a political context.
The economic analysis of law has had the effect of undermining this fragile edifice, by assimilating democracy to a simple “market of ideas”. Concomitantly, the sphere of the market has absorbed the political sphere (the “electoral market”) as well as the realm of the dogmatic or the sacred (the “market of religions”). The figure of the consumer flourishes on the ruins of the figure of the citizen.
About Prof Alain Supiot
Alain Supiot is Professor at the Collège de France (Chair: « État social et mondialisation : analyse juridique des solidarités » “The Social State and Globalisation: the Legal Analysis of Forms of Solidarity”. He founded the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study in 2007, where he is currently a Fellow at large. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work. His main research interests are labour and social security law, and the theory of law.
His principal works in English include:
- Homo Juridicus: On the Anthropological Function of the Law, 2007, Verso.
- The Spirit of Philadelphia: Social Justice vs. the Total Market, 2012, Verso.
- Governance by Numbers. The Making of a Legal Model of Allegiance, 2017, Hart Publishing.
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