In for Berlin: Law and Society 2007

As mentioned on the blog, and emailed to applicants, the preliminary programme for the grand Law and Society extravaganza in Berlin this summer (about) has been published. The conference is the annual meeting/conference of the Law and Society Association, but also involves a range of others, including the Socio-Legal Studies Association (I’m a member of the SLSA).

A great programme for graduate students is organised, and I’m delighted to say that I’ll be presenting a poster at the conference, under the title of “Technological Neutrality and Cyberlaw: The Unexpected Triumph of Technological Determinism?” (abstract below). My neighbour and colleague Des Ryan will also be presenting a paper on the topic of public authority liability. There are, on first glance, about 100 papers and posters on technology or IP issues – I can’t really compile them with the current database layout but I’ll give it a shot when it settles down.


This poster is an analysis of the prevalence of “technological determinism” in legal and regulatory discourse relating to the control of Web-based media, and in particular the debates and preparatory documents pertaining to attempts at law reform (such as the proposed extension of the EU’s Television Without Frontiers directive to a range of Web- and Internet-based services). I consider how the determinist approach influences the choices presented to legislators, and compare the different approaches visible in a number of jurisdictions. I conclude with some suggestions on how the literature on the “social shaping of technology” informs theoretical and practical considerations in cyberlaw and Internet regulation.

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