Sociology of Law in a Digital Society - A Tweet from Global Bukowina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Is it possible to determine the Facebook Gemeinschaft or the living law of the global file sharing community? What are the social facts of twitter or the intuitive law of Chinese microbloggers? This paper argues that digitization of society, the reliance on digital networks, protocol, algorithms and completely new sets of organisational structures for social communities, have vast implications for core interests within socio-legal research. This, I argue, should therefore be seen as a potential for a possible revival of socio-legal classical theorists, following from the fact that several of them struggled to grasp the role of law and norms in a society that in many cases were also in a technology related metamorphosis. This relates to norm pluralism, or possibly, an anomic state in which norms fail to describe reality, as it is perceived. For example, copyright law does not describe the reality of distribution and reproduction of cultural content as conceptualized by the younger generation, which leads to its decreased legitimacy in society. However, here I suggest two complementary traits. First, the study of how we conceptualize law in relation to reality, I argue, could benefit from using findings in cognitive theory relating to conceptual metaphor theory. Language and legal language are expanding and are renegotiated in relation to the massive need to conceptualize digital phenomena. Secondly, I argue that the inherent preconditions in the technologies themselves are of particular socio-legal relevance. This means that the regulating aspects of (programming) code deserve extra attention when studying the socio-legal aspects of a digital society.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law and Society


  • Digital society, Norm pluralism, Code as law, Conceptual legal change, Metaphors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-295
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

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