The Situationist

Archive for January, 2010

Taking the Situation of Consumers Seriously

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 9, 2010

Situationist Contributor David Yosifon recently posted his superb article, “The Consumer Interest in Corporate Law,” (43 UC Davis Law Review 253-313 (2009)) on SSRN.  It’s an important, well written, and very situationist analysis of the influence of corporate law and corporations on consumers. Here’s the abstract.

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This Article provides a comprehensive assessment of the consumer interest in dominant theories of the corporation and in the fundamental doctrines of corporate law. In so doing, the Article fills a void in contemporary corporate law scholarship, which has failed to give sustained attention to consumers in favor of exploring the interests of other corporate stakeholders, especially shareholders, creditors, and workers. Utilizing insights derived from the law and behavioralism movement, this Article examines, in particular, the limitations of the shareholder primacy norm at the heart of prevailing “nexus of contracts” and “team production” theories of the firm. The Article concludes that fundamental reforms in corporate governance may be needed in order to vindicate the consumer interest in corporate enterprise.

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You can download the paper for free here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Hey Dove! Talk to YOUR parent!,” “The Situation of Our Food – Part II,” The Situation of Our Food – Part III,” “The Changing Face of Marketing?,” “The Illusion of Wall Street Reform,” “Reclaiming Corporate Law in a New Gilded Age – Abstract,” “Deep Capture – Part VI,” and “Deep Capture – Part VII.”

(The illustration above is by Situationist artist Marc Scheff.)

Posted in Abstracts, Behavioral Economics, Deep Capture, Law, Situationist Contributors, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brenda Cossman on the Situation of Women in the Workplace

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 8, 2010

Brenda Cossman is a Professor of Law, at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. Her teaching and research is in the area of family law, feminist theory, law and film, and sexuality and the law. Her most recent book on Sexual Citizens: The Legal and Cultural Regulation of Sex and Belonging was published by Stanford University Press in 2007.

She recently published a fascinating article, titled “The ‘Opt Out Revolution’ and the Changing Narratives of Motherhood: Self Governing the Work/Family Conflict” in the 2009 volume of the Utah Law Review.  Here’s the abstract.

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“The double shift,” “the glass ceiling,” “the mommy track”: Women’s efforts to balance work and family have given rise to a host of buzz words over the last two decades. Now, it is the “Opt-Out Revolution,“-the title of Lisa Belkin’s New York Times Magazine article in 2003 that described the decision of upper middle class, professionally trained women to leave the work force and to stay home to care for their children. Her Sunday magazine cover story, headlined as “Q: Why Don’t More Women Get to the Top?” alongside the answer: “A: They Choose Not To,” tracked the decisions of eight women graduates from Princeton now living in Atlanta, and four women in San Francisco, three with MBAs, to trade in their briefcases for diaper bags. Belkin maps their decisions onto what she identifies as a larger trend amongst highly educated women to opt out of the labor market in favor of motherhood.

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You can download a pdf of the article here.

In February of 2008, at the New Frontiers In Family Law Symposium, Professor Cossman gave a fascinating talk based on that article.  You can watch the seventeen-minute talk on the following video.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of Objectification,” Hillary Clinton, the Halo Effect, and Women’s Catch-22,” Women’s Situational Bind,” The Gendered Situation of Science & Math,” and “You Shouldn’t Stereotype Stereotypes.”

Posted in Choice Myth, History, Ideology, Law, Legal Theory, Life | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Situationism in the Blogosphere – December, Part I

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 7, 2010

blogosphere image

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during December 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

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From Brain Blogger: “Sex, Violence and The Male Warrior Hypothesis”

“Throughout the history of human civilization, wars have a common feature of being practiced primarily by males. This group aggression by males is a persistent trait of human behavior, seen across different continents among civilizations that have developed independent of each other.” Read more . . .

From Brain Blogger: “White Bears – The Paradox of Mental Suppression”

“Whatever you do, don’t think of a white bear. Go on, close your eyes, relax, but don’t think of a white bear… So, what happened? Most likely, you were overwhelmed by thoughts of a white bear. This mini-experiment highlights the fascinating paradox of thought suppression.” Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest: “Step away from the cookie jar! Over-confidence in self-control leads us to temptation”

“Out on a shopping trip after lunch, you buy a couple of boxes of chocolates to put in storage for enjoyment over the festive break. You’re not particularly hungry, and you see no obvious problems with the plan. Later that night, however, the munchies kick in and before you know it you’re raiding the cupboard, tearing open the box and gorging yourself. According to a new paper by Loran Nordgren and colleagues, such lapses occur all to frequently because of our inability, when satiated, to fully recognise the power of our visceral needs when hungry, tired, or lustful.” Read more . . .

From Frontal Cortex: “Free Will and Ethics”

“Earlier this week, I wondered if all of our new knowledge about the brain, which is too often presented in a lazy causal fashion – if x lights up, then we do y – might undermine our sense of self and self-control. I’ve since riffled through the literature and found some interesting and suggestive answers.” Read more . . .

For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Blogroll | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Our Food – Part V

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 6, 2010

Michael Pollan (a professor of science and environmental journalism at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California) has a new, short book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Pollan’s writing has been frequently featured on this blog because it is superb and because of his fascinating situationist perspective regarding our food “choices.”  Here is a blurb about the book from Pollan’s website.

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Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food. Written with the clarity, concision and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan’s trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page accompanied by a concise explanation. It’s an easy-to-use guide that draws from a variety of traditions, suggesting how different cultures through the ages have arrived at the same enduring wisdom about food. Whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat buffet, this is the perfect guide for anyone who ever wondered, “What should I eat?”

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Here are a few excerprts from Jennifer Bain’s  telephone interview (for of Michael Pollan about his new book.

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Q: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” is a powerful, memorable statement that was in In Defense of Food and now Food Rules and sums up your food philosophy. What effect has it had?

A: It has kind of entered the culture as a meme. I hear it all the time and see it on T-shirts. The idea was to make some very easy rules people would remember. The “mostly” (mostly plants) is controversial. It seems to annoy both carnivores and vegetarians.

Q: Now you’ve given us Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual with 64 digestible points/rules/personal policies. Why?

A: I did this because I was hearing from lots of medical professionals, doctors and parents that they would love to have something – a pamphlet, really – that pared things down to the essentials. I wanted to reduce the message and get it out to a lot of people who might not be ready or willing to read a whole book. I wanted to preach to beyond the choir. I spend a lot of time talking to upper-middle-class, affluent people, but talking to them about obesity and diabetes. I’m trying to reach a very broad audience. It’s meant to be user friendly, something where you can dive in anywhere and come back.

Q: You’ve nailed one of the biggest food problems with the term “edible foodlike substances.” Did you coin this phrase?

A: I think I did coin this phrase. I felt a big part of our problem is that we should eat “food” and a whole lot of things don’t deserve that designation. I felt I needed a counterpart to food to draw that distinction. I tried to be as value-neutral as I could.

Q: Rule 17: Eat food cooked by humans, not corporations. Does anybody want to cook anymore?

A: Yes and no. Many people feel they don’t have enough time to cook. Many people feel intimidated by cooking. Many do want to cook but are stymied by a lack or knowledge or equipment. I see inklings of a shift back to cooking, somewhat due to the economy. I think there are people rediscovering the kitchen right now. The more I look at this question, the collapse of cooking is a very big part of our problem all the way down to the farm.

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Q: Rule 46: Stop eating before you’re full and try to eat only to 67 to 80 per cent capacity. Easier said than done?

A: Once you start paying attention to it, it’s just about being mindful. Yeah, for most North Americans it is hard. We’ve been sort of taught by the culture to eat until you’re stuffed. The French say: “Je n’ai plus faim” – I have no more hunger. Ask yourself, before you take that bite, is my hunger gone?

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Q: Are you done with writing about food?

A: Um, no. I’m not. I have more to say. I want to write about cooking, and I want to learn how to cook better. I also have not written very much on the international food question – how you feed the world.

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Click on the following video to watch John Stewart’s (Daily Show, Monday 12/04/10) interview of Michael Pollan.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, go to “The Situation of our Food – Part I,” “The Situation of Our Food – Part II,”The Situation of Our Food – Part III,” and “The Situation of our Food – Part IV.”

Posted in Book, Food and Drug Law, Life, Video | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Implicit Associations on Oprah

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 4, 2010

Oprah, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dr. Anthony Greenwald discuss the race-based Implicit Association Test and why some people show an unconscious bias in favor of White people over Black people.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Measuring Implicit Attitudes,” What Are the Legal Implications of Implicit Biases?,” Confronting the Backlash against Implicit Bias,” “Do You Implicitly Prefer Markets or Regulation?,” Legal Academic Backlash – Abstract,” “Naïve Cynicism in Election 2008: Dispositionism v. Situationism?,”  “Implicit Bias and Strawmen.”and “The Situation of Situation in Employment Discrimination Law – Abstract.”

To take the Policy IAT, click here.  For a list of Situationist posts discussing the research on implicit bias and the IAT, click here.

Posted in Implicit Associations, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Situationism in the News

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 2, 2010


Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of the Situationist news over the last several weeks.

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From BBC News: “What’s my brain’s motivation?”

“For an actor, the performance conditions weren’t exactly ideal: flat on her back in a large machine, under strict instructions to lie as still as possible, speaking in short bursts interspersed with the shrill sound of a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. […] Professor Sophie Scott of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London wanted to know what happens physically in an actor’s head when they pretend to be someone else. Rivals on the dating scene could make one feel closer to God, according to new research that suggests one’s religiousness may be more closely related to mating strategies than previously known.” Read more . . .

From Wired: “Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why”

“[…] It’s not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It’s as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis. The stakes could hardly be higher. In today’s economy, the fate of a long-established company can hang on the outcome of a handful of tests.” Read more . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

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