Formal groups play an important role in the law. Informal groups largely lie outside it. Should the law be more attentive to informal groups? I argue that this and related questions are appearing more frequently in legal scholarship as a number of computer technologies, which I collect under the heading “social software,” increase the salience of groups. In turn, that salience raises important questions about both the significance and the benefits of informal groups. In this Essay, I argue that there may be important social benefits associated with informal groups, and that the law should move towards a framework for encouraging and recognizing them. I suggest that such a framework be organized along three dimensions, which crudely track dimensions by which groups arise and sustain themselves: regulation of places, of things, and of stories.
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Date of this Version
Michael J. Madison, "Social Software, Groups and Governance " (August 2005). University of Pittsburgh School of Law Working Paper Series. Working Paper 24.