Jan. 25: Shauhin Talesh 'Works in Progress' Talk

Junior Faculty Exchange

Shauhin Talesh
Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine School of Law
12 p.m., Friday, January 25, 2013
Lubar Commons

Professor Talesh will present his study of consumer law, "Lost in Translation: How Competing Organizational Field Logics Mediate the Meaning of Rights."

Abstract: During the 1970s and 1980s, all fifty states passed consumer warranty laws ("lemon laws") that afforded consumers powerful rights and remedies in court. However, these rights are now largely contingent on first using alternative dispute resolution structures, some created and operated by private organizations and others by states. Outcome data from state and private dispute resolution structures reveal that consumers tend to prevail more in state-run disputing structures than private structures. Although the lemon law field has routed consumers into these alternative disputing structures run by stakeholders, there has been less evaluation of how organizations, through the fields they operate within, shape the meaning of public legal rights in alternative disputing forums they create do private and public actors within the lemon law field understand the purpose and meaning of lemon laws? Do their conceptions cohere or conflict?

Drawing from participant observation at lemon law conferences and in-depth and ethnographic interviews with field actors across the country, Talesh's empirical data suggests, contrary to prior studies of organizational fields, that the lemon law field is simultaneously settled in some areas while contested in others. Moreover, although prior studies show how managerial values shape the way organizations go about complying with law, his empirical data reveals that there are conflicting field logics over the purpose and meaning of lemon laws and the goal of dispute resolution structures. Despite an overall consensus that consumer cases should be adjudicated in informal dispute resolution forums outside the courthouse, private actors view the purpose of lemon laws and goals of informal dispute resolution around adhering to business logics of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, allowing for managerial discretion and control, and customer retention.  Conversely, public actors frame lemon laws in a consumer logic that focuses on rights, protection, transparency, and equal access. Thus, how stakeholders administering private and state-run dispute resolution systems outside courts conceptualize what lemon laws mean in action may have implications for consumers’ access to justice and more broadly, the civil legal system.

Bio: Shauhin Talesh is assistant professor of Law at University of California, Irvine School of Law, with appointments in Sociology and Criminology, and Law and Society. Shauhin is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work spans law, sociology and political science.  Specifically, his research addresses the intersection of law and organizations, focusing on private organizations' responses to and constructions of laws designed to regulate them, consumers' mobilization of their legal rights and the legal cultures of private organizations. Shauhin's scholarship has appeared in multiple law and peer-reviewed social science journals including Law and Society Review and has won multiple awards in Sociology, Political Science and Law and Society. 

Submitted by Law School News on January 22, 2013

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