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Bild på Håkan Hydén.

Håkan Hydén

Professor emeritus

Bild på Håkan Hydén.

DIFFERENT DARLING CONCEPTIONS TIED TO DIFFERENT SOCIETAL SYSTEMS - the case of illegal file sharing in a brave new world


  • Stefan Larsson
  • Håkan Hydén

Summary, in English

Different societies regulate differently. Historically, social evolution has often been connected to technological innovations. The combustion engine took a central position in what later became known as the industrialized society, an urbanizing era of factories and production, on its hand following on the rural society tied to agriculture and trade. With each type of society comes a specific type of legal (darling) conceptions tied to the patterns of behaviour relevant for this type, some new in conflict, some old and lasting. Every transition mean a time of legal and normative change, a time of battles between different legal conceptions, a time of uncertainty in some fields. It is in this perspective we regard the concept of Risk Society. With each type of society follows a birth, a growth, a maturity and a death. In this perspective the industrial society is dying, and the information society is being born, side by side, in both conflict and consensus. With each cyclic turn of a society follows a certain logic attached to the present phase of the society. The upcoming society with its norms, cultures and world view deriving from it, will in many cases be colliding with the regulations and world view based on the old premises.

The article describes the differing legal conceptions tied to an industrial society in transition into another, more information based society, via the example of illegal file sharing and copyright. The term ”risk society”, referred to in the theme of the conference, is derived from Ulrich beck. Beck claims that sociology needs to change if it is to understand and explain the changing needs of a transitional society (Beck 1995:231). Social science can not too rigorously rest upon the “truths” related to the structures of the industrial age. Copyright law is developed in the industrial society, as a means to stimulate creativity and ensure returning profit for investments in immaterial products such as literature, music, moviemaking and other media. Digital technology changes the preconditions, and the causes for changed behaviour in the society to what can be perceived as normative change, a spread pattern of what is accepted as right and wrong at a specific area, for instance regarding file sharing of media content. What in an analogue perspective is seen as theft, a morally still strong anti-value, is in the digital perspective seen as something else, with less moral anti-value.

The “risk society” is here seen as a label on the transitional society containing conflict tied to the new practices, not yet legally codified. The focal point is shifted from a pure hierarchic top down structure towards an increased local influence combined with net-working. The transition towards a new society is initiated at an unregulated bottom, via an emerging core technology and its initial driving contributors. We can only learn how to cope with these changes in society and law by comparing with correspondent shifts earlier in history of mankind. That is what our paper deals with.


  • Rättssociologiska institutionen










  • Law and Society


  • Illegal file sharing
  • copyright law
  • industrial society
  • risk society
  • Sociology of law
  • transition
  • new world
  • legal conceptions
  • darling conceptions.

Conference name

Law and Justice in the Risk Society, the Research Committee of Sociology of Law, annual meeting.

Conference date

2008-07-09 - 2008-07-12

Conference place

Milan and Como, Italy