Slices and LumpsDivision and Aggregation in Law and Life

Slices and LumpsDivision and Aggregation in Law and Life

Lee Anne Fennell

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226650265

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book focuses on a profoundly important but often overlooked concept that shapes how we live, work, play, and govern ourselves: configuration. From “lumpy goods” like bridges and highways that are valuable only when complete, to resources and assets that become more useful when artfully subdivided, human well-being depends on assembling useful lumps and carving out useful slices. From hot-button issues like eminent domain and the sharing economy to personal struggles over the management of time, money, and diet, issues of aggregation and division abound. This book highlights the ubiquity of configuration problems in law, policy, and everyday life, and examines strategies for addressing them. Configuration’s power has never been more important to understand and harness. As increasing urbanization and environmental threats raise the stakes for assembling resources and cooperation, emerging forms of unbundling, from jobs to cars to homes to entertainment, have refined the slices in which we produce and consume. The future of the city, the workplace, the marketplace, and the environment all turn on questions of configuration, as do the prospects for more effective legal doctrines, for better management of finances and health, and much more. This book examines how governments, firms, households, and individuals slice and lump, and how they might do these things better. It reveals the power and potential of configuration—as a unifying concept and field of study, as a focus of public policy and private entrepreneurship, and as a crucial form of life-hacking.