Breaking the Rules to Make the Rules: Poverty, Pragmatism & Legal Compliance in South Asia and Beyond

In this lecture, we will consider why we engage in rule-following behavior, both individually and collectively. We will then consider very realistic scenarios in which social "rules" and legal "rules" differ and learn what prompts a shift from one set to the other. Finally, we will see how poverty can complicate this process and think through ways to facilitate legal compliance for the poor.

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Susan Ostermann

Assistant Professor of Global Affairs

Keough School of Global Affairs

About the Lecturer

Ostermann completed her PhD in the Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds a law degree from Stanford Law School and worked for several years as a practicing litigator, focusing on class actions and intellectual property disputes.

While Professor Ostermann’s research focuses mainly on regulatory compliance in South Asia, she is broadly interested in understanding laws and norms and how they change and interact. Towards this end, she has published papers on inter-caste marriage and the role of skin color in Indian politics. She has also published work on the historical roots of conservatism in Indian political thought, the development and expansion of the Indian Election Commission, variation in sex-ratios throughout the subcontinent, the Indian bureaucracy, state capacity in South Asia, and the 2014 Indian general election.

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