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Måns Svensson

Måns Svensson

Senior lecturer (Leave of Absence)

Måns Svensson

Cybernorms and Virtual Solidarity


  • Måns Svensson
  • Stefan Larsson

Summary, in English

The sharing of computer programs, movies and music over the Internet marks an all time high in the persistent controversy between intellectual property owners and reproduction technologies as file sharing has gradually become a natural element in the everyday life of today’s younger generations. At present, the magnitude of the expanding gulf between traditional society’s intellectual property right complex and the young e-communities’ budding social norms goes beyond the prosaic judicial aspects. The gap runs the risk of becoming a disintegrating force in society and thereby undermining governing legitimacy.

This article presents the results of a research project within the field of sociology of law which has empirically examined, or rather examined the lack of, social norms opposing illegal file sharing. A total of over 1,000 respondents have answered the questionnaire that was conducted in January-February 2009. Along with the social norm indicators, the study maps out relevant questions regarding internet behaviour in this field, such as the will to use anonymity services and the will to pay for copyrighted content. These results are compared and contrasted with the legal development trend in European law in internet and file sharing related matters, as well as the Swedish implementation of this development, as a member of the European Union. This includes the so called IPRED Directive, the Directive on Data retention as well as the implementation of INFOSOC.

The article therefore portrays the social norms on the one hand and the legal developments on the other, and the overarching question of the article therefore addresses the correlation of these two. Do the social norms amongst 15-25 year olds match the legal regulation, as well as the regulatory trend on this field? If not, how can this be understood or explained? The study shows that the cybernorms differ, both in inherent structures and origin, from current legal constructions. There is even reason to talk about “virtual solidarity” as a new form of solidarity in society, to paraphrase Durkheim, who described the organic solidarity of the industrial society. A key issue here is how society can avoid anomie and formulate adequate laws whilst virtual solidarity is emerging.


  • Department of Sociology of Law

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper


  • Law and Society


  • EU
  • European Union
  • Law and society
  • law
  • Durkheim
  • TPB
  • theory of planned behaviour
  • social norms
  • Directive on Data retention
  • Internet
  • file sharing
  • sociology of law
  • IPRED directive

Conference name

Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association: Law, Power, and Inequality in the 21st Century

Conference date


Conference place

United States