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Dana Zuk
S.J.D. Candidate

dzukreifer at


“The Century of the Middle Class: Analyzing American Middle Class’s Conflict of Interest”

In my dissertation, I examine the legal structures that systematically divide the American middle class into subgroups with competing economic interests, notably around questions of property ownership, credit regulation, workers’ rights, and consumerism. As a term that once alluded to economic security, but not wealth, the definition “middle class” is now used to refer to a variety of socio-economic positions, ranging from the increasingly wealthy upper middle class to millions of independent contractors, or workers with multiple jobs who live in significant economic insecurity. My dissertation examines a set of historical and contemporary case studies to identify the diverse economic interests within this class and the role law has played in shaping them.

As I wish to show, although divisions within subgroups of the middle class increased their relative bargaining power among each other, they weakened them collectively in the overall class struggle by undermining their ability to form broad coalitions for advancing collective class interests. By identifying “strategic” moments where the legal system has caused fissures in the middle class, the dissertation aims to gain a better understanding of the relationship between conflicts of economic interests within this class and the current market structure.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Law and Political Economy and Property Law with Professor Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • History of Labor Law and Labor Movement with Professor Laura Weinrib, Harvard Law School
  • Consumer Finance with Professor Oren Bar-Gill, Harvard Law School

Additional Research Interests

  • Consumer Law
  • Pension Law & ERISA
  • Labor Law
  • Law & Class Struggle
  • Legal History
  • Legal and Political Theory
  • History of Economic Thought
  • Legal Foundations of Capitalism
  • Legal Design of Money


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate, 2023-Present
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program, 2022-2023 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • Tel Aviv University Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities, M.A. (Philosophy) Candidate, 2021-Present
  • Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law, LL.B., Magna Cum Laude, 2012-2016
  • Tel Aviv University Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities, B.A. (Philosophy), Magna Cum Laude, 2012-2016

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard Law School, 2023-2024, Graduate Program Fellow, LL.M. Advisor

Additional Information

  • Languages: English (fluent), Hebrew (native)
  • Harvard Law School Award for Best Papers in Law and Political Economy, 2022-2023

Last Updated: July 13th, 2023