Orchestrated Experimentalism in the Regulation of Work

Since the advent of the New Deal vision, work and the workplace have undergone dramatic changes. Policies and institutions that were designed to provide good working conditions and voice for workers are no longer fulfilling their promise. In Working in America: A Blueprint for the New Labor Market (“Blueprint”), four MIT economists take on the challenge of envisioning a new regulatory regime that will fit the realities of the new market. The result of several years of deliberation with various groups in business and labor, academia, and government, Blueprint provides a thoughtful yet unsettling vision of the future of work. Part I of this Review describes the inadequacies of current workplace structures and the challenges facing regulators of the new economy. Part II explores the implications of Blueprint for law reform, particularly labor and employment laws, but also other fields of law, including welfare, immigration, and taxation. Part III discusses the problem of the enforcement gap and the prevalence of dominant corporate culture even in situations where legislative reform is made consistent with new workplace realities. Finally, the Review evaluates the core structure of the vision advanced in Blueprint – democratic experimentalism in the field of work. I argue that while Blueprint premises its inquiries upon the promise of the economy as a social institution, its concrete proposals often do not adequately address the core tensions between economic and social interests.