For Love or Money Roundtable Conference

Date: March 25, 2010
Location: Welcome Dinner for Participants
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Date: March 26, 2010
Location: Anheuser-Busch Hall, Faculty Seminar Room (No. 320)
Times: 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Date: March 27, 2010
Location: Anheuser-Busch Hall, Faculty Seminar Room (No. 320)
Times: 8:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m.

For Love or Money? is a roundtable conference that will address the false dichotomy in life and law between activities initiated for affective reasons, such as love or altruistic impulses, and those undertaken for profit. Papers will be published in Volume 35 of the Washington University Journal on Law and Public Policy. Event by Invitation Only.

For Love or Money:  Defining Relationships in Law and Life

Human life is structured by a variety of relationships, interactions, exchanges, and organizations -- some are complicated, some are simple; some are longstanding, while others are brief; and some are memorialized through formal legal agreement or state-conferred status, while others remain the product of convenience, habit, or social convention.  Yet one overriding characteristic by which the state, social communities, and individuals categorize human relationships and interactions is by distinguishing between those arising out of emotion—including love, passion, or altruism and those arising from economic expediency or profit-seeking.  In other words, was the act, relationship, or exchange in question made for love (broadly construed) or for money? 

Researchers know that this “love or money” dichotomy is in many ways artificial. In the real world, people interact for a variety of complex, intermingled, and often contradictory reasons.  Many people are passionate about their work and love their jobs, yet nearly all enter the labor force and remain employed out of financial necessity.  Conversely, while marriage is associated in American culture with love, many marry or remain married for reasons of social and economic advantage.  Individuals blur the lines between love and money in a host of other ways:  we purchase intimacy, companionship, and personal services associated with love, embark on business and commercial ventures with friends and family members, and engage in exchange relationships regarding the most intimate aspects of ourselves – our fertility, our children, our bodies, our blood – for motivations that appear a combination of altruism and profit-seeking.

Yet once the “love” or “money” labels have attached to a relationship or interaction, a variety of personal, social, and legal consequences flow from that label.  Cognitive dissonance may result for an individual forced to consider in “money” terms a relationship once considered in the loving category.  Social stigma may attach to those who transgress societal conventions regarding which interactions should be motivated by love and which by money.  Legal disadvantage may attach to those disempowered by the law’s efforts to maintain the divide between love and money.  In some circumstances the law encumbers or bans outright incursions by money into the realm of love. 

Why has the “love or money” distinction been such an important and enduring one?  To what extent does this distinction reflect reality?  To the extent that it does not, why do we maintain the dichotomy?  To further some state interest?  The goals of some societal subgroup?  Are these interests and goals valid ones?  Or do they have negative consequences? 

Washington University Law • Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital
Marion Crain, Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and Director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital
T: 314.935.7988 · F: 314.935.7961 · website