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This essay reviews Nate Holdren's Injury Impoverished: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which explores the changes in legal imagination that accompanied the rise of workers' compensation programs. The essay foregrounds Holdren’s insights about disability. Injury Impoverished illustrates the meaning and material consequences that the law has given to work-related impairments over time and documents the naturalization of disability-based exclusion from the formal labor market. In the present day, with so many social benefits tied to employment, this exclusion is particularly troubling.


Disability, social welfare, torts, workers' compensation, legal history, capitalism, workplace injuries, civil justice

Publication Title

Michigan Law Review

Publication Citation

119 Mich. L. Rev. 1269 (2021)