Working Law: Courts, Corporations, And Symbolic Civil Rights

Hardcover | November 28, 2016

byLauren B. Edelman

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Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, virtually all companies have antidiscrimination policies in place. Although these policies represent some progress, women and minorities remain underrepresented within the workplace as a whole and even more so when you look at high-level positions. They also tend to be less well paid. How is it that discrimination remains so prevalent in the American workplace despite the widespread adoption of policies designed to prevent it?

One reason for the limited success of antidiscrimination policies, argues Lauren B. Edelman, is that the law regulating companies is broad and ambiguous, and managers therefore play a critical role in shaping what it means in daily practice. Often, what results are policies and procedures that are largely symbolic and fail to dispel long-standing patterns of discrimination. Even more troubling, these meanings of the law that evolve within companies tend to eventually make their way back into the legal domain, inconspicuously influencing lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants and even judges. When courts look to the presence of antidiscrimination policies and personnel manuals to infer fair practices and to the presence of diversity training programs without examining whether these policies are effective in combating discrimination and achieving racial and gender diversity, they wind up condoning practices that deviate considerably from the legal ideals.
 

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Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, virtually all companies have antidiscrimination policies in place. Although these policies represent some progress, women and minorities remain underrepresented within the workplace as a whole and even more so when you look at high-level positions. They also tend to be less well paid. How is i...

Lauren B. Edelman is the Agnes Roddy Robb Professor of Law and professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. A past president of the Law and Society Association, she is coeditor of two books, most recently The Legal Lives of Private Organizations.  

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:November 28, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022640062X

ISBN - 13:9780226400624

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
PART I. The Interplay of Law and Organizations
CHAPTER 1. Introduction
CHAPTER 2. The Endogeneity of Law
CHAPTER 3. Ambiguous Law and the Erosion of the Progressive Vision in the Courts
PART II. Law in the Workplace
CHAPTER 4. Professional Framing of the Legal Environment
CHAPTER 5. The Diffusion of Symbolic Structures
CHAPTER 6. The Managerialization of Law
PART IV. The Workplace in Law
CHAPTER 7. The Mobilization of Symbolic Structures
CHAPTER 8. Legal Deference to Symbolic Compliance
CHAPTER 9. Symbolic Civil Rights and the Endogeneity of Law
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“With this lone comprehensive and empirically supported critique of our national celebration of civil rights, Edelman argues persuasively that we live not in a post–civil rights society—as many have claimed—but a ‘symbolic civil rights society,’ an age committed to the trappings of civil rights but little more. Working Law is a distinct, original, and important interpretation of the long-term trajectory of civil rights policy. While most view civil rights policy as a mix of some meaningful implementation and much resistance to it, Edelman makes the striking case that much of the path of change is driven by one force: the interests of major organizational employers and, specifically, the strategies of their managers to inoculate employment practices from challenge. It’s hard to overstate the significance of this work.”