Law, Policy and Social Control Amidst Flux
Published in: Festskrift till Karsten Åström (Lund: Juristförlaget, 2016) 47-74
30 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2016 Last revised: 5 May 2018
Date Written: December 15, 2016
This chapter will begin with a brief discussion of early modernity and the rise of the welfare state, before going on to explore how law and legal regulation change as we enter “late modernity”. The notion of “late modernity” – not to be confused with postmodernity – captures how industrially advanced societies evolve, when globalisation, aided by information technology, accelerates rapidly at the end of the twentieth century. Globalisation speeds up the movement of capital, information, goods, services, people, images and ideas across the globe, thus, dislodging social and cultural norms from their context in time and space. It shifts social and cultural boundaries, enhancing “reflexivity” and social disembeddedness of individuals and collectivises, giving rise to pluralities of values, norms and laws, on the one hand, and to uncertainties, anxieties and “ontological insecurities,” on the other. Enhanced reflexivity – the constant awareness of existing alternative choices, moral standards and modes of action brought on by the consequences of globalisation – offers new possibilities as the agency increasingly frees itself from the normative constraints of institutions. Fuelled by a ubiquitous culture of consumerism and facilitated by digital technology, this heightened reflexivity helps to advance hyper-individualism across society, emphasising individual rights divorced from their corresponding responsibilities and concerns with collective “social good”. This, in turn, destabilises social relations and structures which previously gave a sense of cohesion, permanence and continuity to modernity. What does hold society together and what is the role of law and regulation under the liquid conditions of late modernity? These are among the questions that will guide us through this chapter.
Keywords: law, regulation, globalisation, late modernity, industrialisation, materiality, digitalisation, consemurism
JEL Classification: L49, N3, F6, K2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation