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Shifts in Norm Setting

The aim of the research group was to analyze, structure and classify the normative foundation of the networked society as well as current shifting processes in a disciplinary and interdisciplinary way.

This research group conducted research at the Weizenbaum Institute from 2017 to 2022. In the newly launched research program, research will henceforth be organised in 16 research groups. These will be flanked and supported by the new Weizenbaum Digital Science Center.

The starting point for the research group was the shift of regulatory competence from nation-states to supranational and private actors triggered by digitization. The dimensions of this transformation – social norms, formal law, technical standards – were examined from a legal and sociological perspective. Of particular interest were the interdependencies of these areas, which have a high potential for explanation. 

Social norms, conventions and the structure of the social are both a prerequisite for and an object of digitalization. Objects of research here include the effects of digital transformation on industrial and cultural production. Questions of (intellectual) property, originality and quality are of particular interest, especially at the interface between the material and the immaterial.

Formal law is subject to changes in various ways through networking, automation and digitization. Human decision-making processes are increasingly computerized and technologized. The result of an increase in the ability of digital agents to act on legal transactions was discussed. The effects of modern, partially automated communication possibilities on democratic decision-making under the influence of the digital dimension of basic rights were also investigated.

Interdisciplinary research projects of the group also concentrated within the above-mentioned areas of conflict. For example, a discourse analysis was used to examine and classify the legal debate on the EU copyright reform. In another project, the expansion of the corporate sphere of responsibility and the scope of voluntary self-commitments in the digital world were analyzed. In addition, the criticality of self-learning systems and the associated alternatives to legal standard setting were discussed and evaluated.


Prof. Dr. Herbert Zech, Director, Principal Investigator
Prof. Dr. Axel Metzger, LL.M., Associated Principal Investigator, Founding Director
Simon Schrör, Research Group Lead

  • Mathias Dudek
  • Paul Dürr
  • Alexandra Keiner
  • Lisa Markschies
  • Ferdinand Müller
  • Quang Tung Nguyen
  • Jana Pinheiro Goncalves
  • Finn Schädlich
  • Pablo Schumacher
  • Tetiana Shportak
  • Laurie Stührenberg


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