The Uncivil Polity: Race, Poverty and Civil Legal Justice

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
12:00pm to 1:30pm
Wildavsky Conference Room, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
2538 Channing Way
Berkeley CA 94720

Civil legal institutions protect crucial economic, social, and political rights. The core functions of civil law include preventing evictions, averting deportations, advocating on behalf of public assistance beneficiaries, representing borrowers in disputes with lenders, safeguarding women from domestic violence, and resolving family disputes (e.g. child support, custody). Civil legal protections are especially critical to low-income women of color. In 2016, seventy-two percent of civil legal aid beneficiaries were women and over 50 percent were people of color. To date, civil legal institutions have remained largely invisible in the discipline of political science. This paper investigates the democratic repercussions of civil legal institutions. Drawing on data from in-depth qualitative interviews, we examine how experiences with civil legal processes affect political attitudes and action among racially and economically marginal denizens. 

Sponsored by Center for Research on Social Change, UC Berkeley
 
Co-sponsored by Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans, Institute for Governmental Studies, and Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley