Advertisement

Corporation

The Zero-Sum Game of Corporate Personhood
  • Clare V. Eby
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Economics book series (PSLCE)

Abstract

The legal fiction of corporate personhood has created a zero-sum game entailing a transfer of power toward the corporation and away from human beings. While spotlighted following Citizens United (2010) and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), the legal precedents of corporate personhood stretch back for centuries. The Progressive era is a particularly important juncture, marking what Martin Sklar terms the “corporate reconstruction of American capitalism.” The Squatter and the Don (1885) by María Amaparo Ruiz de Burton and The Octopus (1901) by Frank Norris insist on the difference between metaphorical personification and human embodiment, developing a critical analysis of corporations. A postmodern riff on the nineteenth-century novel, Richard Powers’s Gain (1998), also responds to the legal history of corporate personal unaccountability and to its own literary predecessors.

References

  1. Beard, Charles A., and Mary R. Beard. 1927. The Rise of American Civilization. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Blackstone, Sir William. 1753. Commentaries on the Laws of England. Vol. 1. of the Online Library of Liberty. http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2140.
  3. Blair, Margaret. 2013. Corporate Personhood and the Corporate Persona. University of Illinois Law Review 2013 (3): 785–820.Google Scholar
  4. Blair, Margaret, and Elizabeth Pollman. 2017. The Supreme Court’s View of Corporate Rights: Two Centuries of Evolution and Controversy. In Corporations and American Democracy, ed. Naomi R. Lamoreaux and William J. Novak, 245–285. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bloch, Ruth H., and Naomi R. Lamoreaux. 2017. Corporations and the Fourteenth Amendment. In Corporations and American Democracy, ed. Naomi R. Lamoreaux and William J. Novak, 286–325. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brooks, Richard R.W. 2006. Incorporating Race. Columbia Law Review 106: 2023–2094.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, Tenielle R. 2013. In-Corp-O-Real: A Psychological Critique of Corporate Personhood and Citizens United. Florida State University Business Review 12 (1): 1–108.Google Scholar
  8. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. 2014. 573 U. S.Google Scholar
  9. Chandler, Alfred D., Jr. 1977. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. 2010. 558 U.S.Google Scholar
  11. Connecticut General Life Insurance Company v. Johnson. 1938. 303 U. S. 77. Dissenting opinion of J. Black.Google Scholar
  12. Ellis, Atiba R. 2011. Citizens United and Tiered Personhood. John Marshall Law Review 44 (3): 717–749.Google Scholar
  13. First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti. 1978. 435 U.S. 765.Google Scholar
  14. Graham, Howard Jay. 1938. The Conspiracy Theory of the Fourteenth Amendment. Yale Law Journal 47: 371–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grear, Anna. 2012. Redirecting Human Rights: Facing the Challenge of Corporate Legal Humanity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Horwitz, Morton. 1992. The Transformation of American Law, 1870–1960: The Crisis of Legal Orthodoxy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kent, James. 1882. Commentaries on American Law. Vol. 2. Google Books. https://books.google.com/books/about/Commentaries_on_American_law_2.html?id=_PFBAAAAYAAJ.
  18. Kwak, James. 2017. Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  19. Maitland, Frederic William. 1900. Introduction. In Political Theories of the Middle Ages, by Otto Giercke, trans. F. W. Maitland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Mayer, Carl J. 1990. Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights. Hastings Law Journal 41 (3): 577–668.Google Scholar
  21. O’Melinn, Liam Séamus. 2006. Neither Contract nor Concession: The Public Personality of the Corporation. George Washington Law Review 74 (2): 201–259.Google Scholar
  22. Newfield, Christopher. 2014. Corporation. In Keywords for American Cultural Studies, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, 2nd ed., 63–68. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Norris, Frank. 1986. The Octopus. New York: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
  24. People’s Pleasure Park Co. v. Rohleder. 1908. 61 S. E. 794.Google Scholar
  25. powell, john a., and Caitlin Watt. 2011. Corporate Prerogative, Race, and Identity under the Fourteenth Amendment. Cardozo Law Review 32 (3): 885–904.Google Scholar
  26. Powers, Richard. 1998. Gain. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.Google Scholar
  27. Ruiz de Burton, María Amparo. 1992. The Squatter and the Don. Houston: Arte Público Press.Google Scholar
  28. Sánchez, Rosaura, and Beatrice Pita. 1992. Introduction. In The Squatter and the Don, by María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, 5–54. Houston: Arte Público Press.Google Scholar
  29. Sklar, Martin J. 1988. The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890–1916. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stern, Simon. 2017. Legal and Legal Fictions. In New Directions in Law and Literature, ed. Elizabeth S. Anker and Bernadette Meyler, 313–326. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Thomas, Brook. 2013. Ruiz de Burton, Railroads, Reconstruction. ELH 80 (3, Fall): 871–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward. 1819. 17 U.S. 518.Google Scholar
  33. Van Cleve, George William. 2010. A Slaveholder’s Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Werner, Amanda. 2015. Corporations are (White) People Too: How Corporate Privilege Reifies Whiteness as Property. Harvard Journal of Racial and Ethnic Justice 31: 129–147.Google Scholar
  35. Winkler, Adam. 2018. We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights. New York: Liveright.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clare V. Eby
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

Personalised recommendations