2019 Law & Society Annual Meeting
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New technologies stand poised to effect a paradigm shift for society—and for sociolegal institutions specifically—by offering new means of interacting with established social institutions, new tools for regulatory governance and law enforcement, by generating new forms of predictive and algorithmic knowledge that confront law’s traditional notions of due process, and by reshaping social norms around discretion, risk, and accountability.
The CRN focuses on technology, in the current day and in a speculative future, as both the subject and object of social life. In the former instance, we explore and comment on, inter alia, the use of technologies that surveil and control social actors; that provide or prohibit access to legal institutions and the polity more broadly; that are used by legal actors in a variety of practice settings; and that change societal understandings and expectations of what law is and how it is experienced. In the latter instance, we examine, inter alia, how regulators, legislators, and the judiciary respond to shifts in the technological landscape, both historic and contemporary; how organizations operating at the cutting edge of technological innovation comply with or contest regulation; the role of the legal profession in defining what is and is not regulable via technology; and the way social, political, legal, and market forces promote or dissuade adoption of different types of technologies.
The CRN invites participation from across the disciplinary and interdisciplinary spectrum, from legal theorists and sociologists to political scientists and economists; from sociolegal scholars to technologists, information studies scholars, and systems designers. Additionally, we welcome all methods and methodologists, including quantitative (e.g., experimental, econometric), qualitative (e.g., ethnographic, interview), historical, narrative, legal/doctrinal, and mixed methodologies. New technologies present novel ethical and normative questions around privacy, ownership, access, and compliance; we welcome critical engagement on this front as well. With technological change come consequences, both anticipated and unanticipated. This CRN attempts to make the study of these consequences—and their origins—a pertinent and pressing part of the conversation in the next generation of sociolegal scholarship.