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Abstract

In this article we discuss the political and economic consequences of the contemporary legal theory of incorporation. We argue that incorporation has developed historically in a way that makes it internally inconsistent, but that this inconsistency is useful for the powerful because of its legal and economic effects. The corporation can “shape shift,” which is very helpful for claiming some rights and disavowing certain responsibilities. Of course this flexibility comes at the expense of consistent concepts and this leads to the creation of what we term an “ideal-type reified singular representation.” We go on to show the far-reaching effects of this representation for legal studies, economics, and political theory, and show it worked in the pro-corporate decision in the recent Citizens United case. We conclude by providing several alternative ways to think about the nature of corporate organization.