Karl Dahlstrand, Berit Wigerfelt, Anders Wigerfelt

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A central point of departure for this socio-legal study about online hate crimes concerns the significance of analysing and understanding social norms in relation to these crimes on the Internet. This is of importance not least when one approaches the issue of how law and the legal system may contribute towards positive developments in this field and prevent hate crimes. It is apparent that law and social norms function concurrently in influencing behaviours. On the one hand, social norms have a strong impact on how law is formulated due to law typically being shaped to reflect the morals and values in society. On the other hand, the reverse effect can also play an important role: When law leads and paves the way for changed behaviours, it may in time produce changes in social norms. People tend to revaluate their views of right and wrong and adapt their values towards legally advocated behaviour. People also tend to make demands of their social environment in a manner that coincides with legally grounded values. Through clear legal signals, processes are initiated that have the potential, in time, to lead to changed social norms. People must, then, not only consider the legally constructed risk involved in being caught, sentenced and punished, we must also relate to the risk of being condemned by our fellow citizens. The empirical study is made in Sweden and the article present the Swedish legal and social context related to different hate crimes and how these phenomena are perceived among Swedish Internet users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1859-1878
JournalQuaestio Iuris
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Law and Society

Free keywords

  • Social norms
  • Hate crimes
  • Socio-legal
  • Swedish Internet users
  • Legal system.


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