The Future of Law – “Serial Law”?

Karl-Heinz Ladeur


The legal system undergoes again a deep process of transformation that may be

attributed to the emergence of the “society of networks”. The earlier transformations that took place

in the “society of organisations” were centred around the organisation as a kind of “big individual”

that was and still is able to aggregate and manage long chains of actions as opposed to the individual

subject whose action was rule oriented and followed established patterns of experience. The “society

of organisations” was characterised by the rise of all kinds of social norms (standards), organised

generation of knowledge, and practices of “balancing” that the multiplication of long chains of action

have made necessary. The “society of networks” leads to more complex processes of knowledge

generation and tends to create new “quasi-subjects” that follow mobile project-like patterns of

cooperation. They are focused on “high knowledge” that is involved in permanent processes of self-

-transformation. The emergence of “data driven technologies” that do not follow stable trajectories is

paradigmatic. It is a challenge for the legal system if what the new loosely aggregated quasi-subjects

of the “society of networks” do is “surfing fluid reality” (Bahrami/Evans). This evolution finds its

repercussion in new challenges for the regulatory state and also for contracting practices in private

law. “Serial law” might be a new paradigm of law that “reads” processes of change in real time and

experiments with forms of coordination that refer to learning processes.

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