Visualizing the econolegal (what do all those lines mean?)

There are so many ways of exploring what sort of society, what sort of economic and legal aspects of interactions, we could achieve. Often, the traditional academic publishing route is respected, but rather dull (and often behind a paywall).

I’ve been exploring ways of seeing the econolegal, or the economic life of law, and have been drawing and making videos of different methods of visualizing these.

Patterns of social interaction
One line as one interaction, and the patterns and layers that appear when we zoom out

The first image here takes a simple line as one social interaction between two people. The interaction will of course have economic and legal aspects (all interactions do). But if each interaction is one line, when we start layering up lines and zooming out, patterns appear, as they do in real life.

In turning to the social sciences to understand our approaches to these, there are several options. The next picture sets out social science approaches.

It starts with rigid lines and regular squares. These reflect the approach of traditional economics models that assume we are economic actors, with perfect information, who are seeking to “maximize our utility”. These models guide most economics approaches, and are often extracted and abstracted versions of reality.

Z econo-socio-models metamorphosis
Moving from rigid traditional models to something more fluid that captures the real world better

As it moves down through the drawing, the lines become curvier, and less standardized. Eventually, the interweaving becomes irregular and messy, and begins to reflect real life much more. If economics could become more like the rows at the bottom of this image, and could adapt to the messy realities of real life, perhaps we could design an economy that worked for us, instead of us working for the economy?

The diagram below reflects how the social sciences could look if they developed models and approaches that actually reflected how real life actually happens.



The irregularity and messiness of social life
Fluidity and messiness of the social sciences when they recognize and reflect the real world
ESL zentangle 1
Econo-socio-legal social fabric

Finally, by weaving together the econo-, the socio-, and the legal-, we can create a social fabric that better corresponds to social constructivist understandings Рin other words the belief that human knowledge is created through social interactions.

This encourages interdisciplinarity, and getting research to talk across and through boundaries. It also hopes that social science research in the future can build bridges to reunite the disciplines, as they used to be. Social science silos (economics, law, sociology, and others) can benefit so much from working with each other.