Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States

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Princeton University Press, 2006 - Law - 214 pages
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Injury offers the first sustained anthropological analysis and critique of American injury law. The book approaches injury law as a symptom of a larger American injury culture, rather than as a tool of social justice or as a form of regulation. In doing so, it offers a new understanding of the problematic role that law plays in constructing Americans' relations with the objects they consume.

Through lively historical analyses of consumer products and workplace objects ranging from cigarettes to cheeseburgers and computer keyboards to airbags, Jain lucidly illustrates the real limits of the product safety laws that seek to redress consumer and worker injury. The book draws from a wide range of materials to demonstrate that American law sets out injury as an exceptional state, one that can be redressed through imperfect systems of monetary compensation. Injury demonstrates how laws are unable to accommodate the ways in which physical differences among citizens are imposed by the physical objects of culture that distribute risk differently among populations. The book moves between detailed accounts of individual legal cases; historical analyses of advertising, product design, regulation, and legal history; and a wide reading of cultural theory.

Drawing on an extensive knowledge of law and social theory, this innovative book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in design, consumption, and the politics of injury.


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Totally brilliant!


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Page 22 - I concur in the judgment, but I believe the manufacturer's negligence should no longer be singled out as the basis of a plaintiff's right to recover in cases like the present one. In my opinion it should now be recognized that a manufacturer incurs an absolute liability when an article that he has placed on the market, knowing that it is to be used without inspection, proves to have a defect that causes injury to human beings.
Page 9 - To address oneself to the other in the language of the other is, it seems, the condition of all possible justice, but apparently, in all rigor, it is not only impossible (since I cannot speak the language of the other...
Page 7 - The things with which in this sense government is to be concerned are in fact men, but men in their relations, their links, their imbrication with those other things which are wealth, resources, means of subsistence, the territory with its specific qualities, climate, irrigation, fertility, etc...

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About the author (2006)

Sarah S. Lochlann Jain is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Stanford University.

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