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Inside Ideas: The Intellectual Life of Elizabeth Warren

Posted by Josh Rothman  October 24, 2011 01:38 PM

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Leon Neyfakh explores Warren's academic career, and explains what it suggests about the kind of politician she'll be:

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that everything Warren stands for in the popular imagination — above all, her conviction that the system is stacked against the interests of regular people — has roots in her academic career, an improbable journey that began shortly after she graduated from Rutgers School of Law in 1976. Since that time, Warren has made her name in the academy as a passionate proponent of... on-the-ground research.... Unlike many other legal scholars, who tend to think about the law in terms of abstract theory, logic, and precedent, the defining feature of Warren’s scholarly work has been the priority she places on studying how people actually respond to laws in the real world.

“She wants to know how things work,” said Robert Lawless, a bankruptcy scholar at the University of Illinois College of Law, who has coauthored several papers with Warren. “She’s always been someone who let the facts take her where they will.”

More in Ideas: Elizabeth Warren's unorthodox career."

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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