This paper has, then, two major themes. In the first part I hope to elucidate the relationship of political, legal, and social status associated with land ownership to the unique legal remedies - specific performance and non-recovery of damages - which society created in respect to exchanges of land (and thus exchanges of status) for money. In the conclusion I examine the transformation of legal rules applied to agreements in which labour is exchanged for money. If, in fact, property rules in contract evolved in response to the political, legal, and social attributes of land ownership, then one may be able to perceive a metamorphosis in the nature of labour entitlements as the meaning and place of labour in society has evolved. I should point out as well that the purpose of this essay is not to deny that land contracts ought no longer to be protected by property rules. It is less ambitious than that. My intent is to point out that many of the underlying social and political forces which created the traditional boundaries of specific performance are no longer extant. Other contracts which have nothing at all to do with real property may have replaced, or at least joined, land contracts as the focal point of social expectations and obligations. Wealth exists in numerous guises, many of which were unknown or even illegal when contract law developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Private property, be it in tangible assets or contracts, is a delicate institution. If the law closes its eyes to social change and protects only one form of wealth to the exclusion of all others, it exists only to protect those who possess the former.
David Cohen, The Relationship of Contractual Remedies to Political and Social Status: A Preliminary Inquiry, 32 U. Toronto L.J. 31 (1982), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/428/.