Shifts in Norm Setting

Research Group 16

We want to analyse the repercussions of the digital transformation on the ability of state actors and institutions to regulate certain areas of life. We observe transformational processes that shift these capacities to international settings as well as to private actors and technical configurations. In that regard we also aim for an enquiry into the societal dimensions of these processes.

The digital transformation has produced countless new technologies, media and usages. On the one hand, these are societally desirable, on the other hand, they also seem to overburden legal norms and standards as well as state institutions.

Our aim is to analyze how this digital transformation is changing or even circumscribing the capacities of state actors and institutions to regulate effectively areas affected by the digital world. We are especially interested in transformational processes that shift such capacities from, firstly, the national to the international sphere (e.g. with regard to Data Protection or Intellectual Property) and, secondly, from state institutions to private actors and technical configurations (e.g. with regard to community standards of social media). This analysis includes observations on the legitimacy of such processes and, where appropriate, their critique.

A further goal lies in a sociological inquiry into the interdependencies of digital and analogue social conventions. These can also have an impact on legal standards, e.g. when social practices and legal standards come apart.

Both projects thus contain a descriptive as well as a normative element. By combining the methods and outlook of both legal and social sciences, we want to enable a critical, yet constructive perspective on the “legal reality” of the networked society.

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