Swarms in the Law

January 04, 2023

Human swarms arise and take shape mainly on the major internet platforms. This book, edited by Ben Köhler and Stefan Korch, senior research fellows at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, addresses the legal challenges posed by human swarms and by the phenomenon of emergent collectivity, for example in relation to shitstorms, swarm trading, and wildcat strikes.

The term “swarm” is a metaphor for loose associations of people that exhibit emergent behavioural patterns. These patterns are what differentiates swarms from simple gatherings or large crowds. Through social media, it has become easier for people to network and form into groups, and this has given rise to phenomena, both societal and legal, that were virtually unknown up until a few decades ago – at least not in the frequency and intensity with which they now occur.

The book originated in a conference at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg in the summer of 2022. With contributions by German and Austrian researchers, it looks at the major platforms in their role as infrastructure for the swarm, at responsibility and accountability in relation to swarm behaviour, and at swarms in capital markets and labour law. In addition to basic questions of civil and criminal liability for swarm behaviour, the contributions focus on the European as well as the international dimensions of the phenomenon.

Ben Gerrit Köhler, Stefan Korch (eds.), Schwärme im Recht (Studien zum ausländischen und internationalen Privatrecht, 494), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2022, XIV + 220 pp.

Image: © Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law / Marlena Staak

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