Edited by Peter Drahos, Gustavo Ghidini and Hanns Ullrich
Chapter 2: The digital economy, digital society, and private law
This essay is about the ways the legislator in Europe, in particular the EU and the German legislator, and the community of lawyers at large over the last 100 years have approached the systemic legal problems raised by fundamental societal changes, such as industrialization of production, the consumer movement, and, recently, the digitization of the economy and of society. It posits that the main trend always was somehow to avoid addressing directly the changed realities and, instead, preferred maintaining tel quel the existing system of private law as inherited from the codifications of civil law. The author illustrates his critical analysis by pointing to the profound transformation to which digitization exposes classic concepts of private law. He concludes by a strong plea for a holistic and broadly interdisciplinary approach for dealing with the systemic challenges that digitization poses to a socially satisfactory functioning of the general legal order.
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