Division of Social Sciences - UCLA College of Letters and Science

Corporate Personhood pt.1

clock January 20, 2012 16:03 by author S. Megan Heller

Corporate Personhood (Part 1)

By S. Megan Heller, PhD candidate, Anthropology, UCLA


“I will believe that a corporation is a person, when Texas executes one!”—sign at Occupy LA

There have been many important consequences of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which have begun to revitalize democratic participation in the United States. Communication practices, such as those discussed by R. Lila Steinberg in the previous blog, are among the most promising cultural developments that emerged within the Occupy encampments. I myself participated in discussions and teach-ins at Occupy LA around the issue of corporate personhood, which is the legal practice of bestowing corporations with the same rights as individuals and protecting those rights under the US Constitution. This was a topic that I first encountered in an undergraduate class on the Anthropology of the United States, taught by a legal anthropologist at Cornell University, Vilma Santiago-Irizarry. I was very impressed to see this complex legal issue being discussed by ordinary citizens at Occupy LA.


The Occupy Movement – Time-in-Place for Democracy

clock December 7, 2011 14:50 by author rlsteinberg@ucla.edu

 The Occupy Movement – Time-in-Place for Democracy


By R. Lila Steinberg, PhD student, Applied Linguistics, UCLA


Last week police raided, destroyed, and subsequently barricaded off the site of the Los Angeles Occupy encampment – the last large encampment in the country. During the massive paramilitary operation, a large dedicated group of officers dressed dramatically in white hazmat suits jogged into the park to remove tents and other property. The close outdoor living conditions of Occupy encampments across the country have been cited by city officials as breeding grounds for public health risks. However, these concerns have been revealed as largely trivial. They have served instead to distract from the real story of the communicative practices being explored and elaborated at Occupy locations. More vitally, and perhaps more threateningly, these spaces have allowed for the gestation of emergent democratic discourse practices. The encampments have allowed the time-in-place for Occupiers to experience durative conversation and relation, and to discover processes of nonviolent communication and decision-making among diverse participants.More...

Occupy Participant Characteristics

clock December 6, 2011 19:20 by author Social Sciences

Professor Héctor Cordero-Guzmán (School of Public Affairs, CUNY), discusses the characteristics of the individuals involved in the Occupy movement.

Occupy, beyond deferment of dreams

clock December 6, 2011 19:10 by author Social Sciences

Whitney Richards-Calathes (Sociology Graduate Student) discusses Occupy, the deferment of dreams and beyond.

Inequality, social mobility, and taxes in the US

clock December 1, 2011 10:54 by author Kasy, Maximilian

Inequality, social mobility, and taxes in the US

by Maximilian Kasy (Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, UCLA)

Two of the main slogans of the Occupy movement are "We are the 99%" and "Tax the Rich!".
What does Economics have to say about that? The following three articles provide some insightful facts on the development of economic inequality over time in the US, on economic mobility across generations in international comparison, and on optimal income taxation.

The extremes of the income distribution, in particular at the top are notoriously hard to measure. This makes it difficult to get a good sense of the degree and evolution of economic inequality in a country.
"Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998" by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez addresses this problem, and constructs measures of inequality based on tax data:
Updated numbers up until 2008 are available at
Their results show a startling rise of income inequality in the US over the last 30 years.
In 1980, the top 1% of all income recipients received incomes 8 times as large as the US average. In 2008, their incomes were 18 times as large as the average income. This implies that a stunning 52% of all GDP growth during this period has been captured by the richest 1%.