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Understanding Local Values and How They Are Affected by Global Networks 3.1 INTRODUCTION Some value judgments, like the objection to child pornography, are essentially universal. But even nations as culturally close as the United States and Germany are divided on many value issues. For example, in the light of its history, Germany has actually banned right-wing publica- tions that would be allowed, even if not admired, in the United States. On the other hand, Americans in large numbers deem certain materials por- nographic that most Germans would find inoffensive (see Box 3.1 for these and other examples). These kinds of contrasts would seem to lead to the stark and simplistic assertion that global networks threaten local values. But the reality is much more complex. The purpose of this background chapter is to lay the conceptual foundation for understanding what val- ues are, so that the interaction of global networks with the particular value-driven issues addressed in later chapters can be better understood. There is no universal agreement on what the term "'value"' means. The dictionary definition ("a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable" ~ has a question-begging quality to it. Although almost all behavioral and social scientists deal with values in one way or another, they tend to avoid the term and replace it with more specific concepts. Economists, for example, typically focus on behavioral re- sponses to incentives, with the assumption that they are a measure of iThe American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 46
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 47
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48 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES (and do not themselves affect) values. Nevertheless, analysis of values has increased and improved in quality with the recognition that val- ues can change; they can be affected by public policy, and they influence how people respond to public policy.2 This study aims specifically at understanding the influence of global networks on local values, and the public unease to which it gives rise, in order to provide advice to political actors on how and whether to take action. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to avoid the general ques- tion of what values are, what function they have for the individual, soci- ety, and government, and what makes them local. The following sections take up these issues and their implications. 3.2 ARE VALUES ALWAYS THE ISSUE? Although public concern with the impact of global networks is often cast in terms of the effect on local values, in some instances the perceived threat to a value is a proxy for a more tangible threat. Thus, if people ask to be shielded from inadvertent access to depictions of brutal violence, they may well be driven by a fear of the trauma that is, the mental in- jury that exposure to such scenes might produce rather than a principled objection to the exposure itself. Some forms of crude pornography might fall into the same category. Thus, the objection could be based both on a normative conviction concerning graphic violence and a self-preserving concern for one's mental health. There is a subtle, but real, difference here. Measures aimed at pro- moting a normative conviction, or value, are intended to encourage con- formity among those who might not be inclined to accept it, though a single violation would not challenge its validity or lead to any great harm. A trauma, on the other hand, hits those whose normative conviction may be quite firm. And a single exposure can be enough to cause unacceptable harm.3 In fact, although there are some differences in how they are mani- fested in the United States and Germany, arguments to limit access to pornography or portrayals of violence are frequently justified in terms of the need to protect minors rather than as a question of morality. To some extent, the approach may be disingenuous in that adults who object to depictions of nudity might simply find it more convenient and effective 2Henry J. Aaron et al., eds. 1994. Values and Public Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. 3J. Douglas Bremner and Charles R. Marmar, eds. 1998. Trauma, Memory, and Dissociation. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 49 to use the child-protection argument than to have to defend the value in the abstract. Of course, this strategy could lead policymakers and design- ers to develop legal tools and technical approaches specifically directed at minors, which would do little to deal with the actual concerns that prompted the outcry.4 The German treatment of Nazi speech illustrates still another distinc- tion (Box 3.2~. The use of Nazi symbols, open adherence to Nazi ideology, or the distribution of Nazi publications without a strong disclaimer is a taboo a very strong form of protecting and enforcing a value judgement. Anyone openly breaking the taboo, even once, is alienated from the com- munity. Yet, the violation does not necessarily threaten the taboo. In fact, occasional breaches can even help a society enforce the tabooed value; it can be argued that the common and visible defense of the taboo can serve as a powerful social bond. At the limit, a society may even define itself by its shared taboos.5 To some extent, these same arguments might also apply to values that are part of what has been called political correctness. Finally, there are the circumstances in which the potential harm is not the content itself, but its use in the outside, non-virtual world. The most obvious case is the publication of bomb-building instructions. The con- cern in that instance does not arise because the communication challenges the principle that it is wrong to kill people. The value itself is not in dan- ger, though people's lives might be. In these examples, the issue is less a threat to a local value than it is a broader social or political problem. But there are also instances in which global networks may serve to promote local values that have been under- mined by political considerations. For example, global networks give German citizens access to environmental information that the German government holds but has been hesitant to release, despite its legal obli- gation to do so. And the very fact that information of that kind is made available in other countries through the Internet may pressure German administrators to move toward more open policies.6 Compared to the situation in Germany, the issue of government open- ness has been less problematic in the United States. Moreover, global networks serve to multiply sources of information there at a time when consolidation in other media has raised concern that the diversity of view- points made available to the public also a clear local value might be reduced. 4See Chapter 5 ("Free Speech and the Internet") for more discussion. Worst Reimann. 1989. "Tabu," Stuatslexikon. Freiburg: Recht Wirtschaft Gesellschaft, 420. 6See Chapter 6 ("Privacy and Freedom of Information") for more discussion.
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50 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 51 3.3 THE FUNCTION OF VALUES To understand a concept as complex as that of values, one needs to be able to interpret and apply it. For purposes of the present study, that can best be achieved by delineating their function for the individual, for soci- ety, and for government. In this way, one needn't be wedded to a particu- lar set of values. In fact, by being clear about the functions that values serve, their "evolutionary potential" becomes clear as well. 3.3.1 Understanding Is Interpreting Although philosophers have put considerable effort into making sense out of the question, "What is a chair?", most of us are satisfied that we know one when we see one. For the semantically identical question, "What is a local value?", the common-sense answer does not work as well. What a value is depends on how we look at it, and the framework for analyzing the question is not neutral. The way the problem is framed is inherently normative, and it inevitably has an impact on whatever an- . . swer IS given. Nearly all the behavioral and social sciences have their own view of what values are. Ethics is obviously about values, but philosophers also rely on values when they insist that understanding is interpreting. They argue that reality cannot be understood without some attempt to inter- pret what its purpose is and what it does.7 Some philosophers go even further. They conceive of humans as social animals and see normativity (or values) as the precondition for passing from the isolated individual to a society.8 Rational-choice analysis starts from the premise that each individual maximizes his or her own utility. Rationality, rather than a morality of group obligation, guides decisions. This view is predominant in econom- ics, but also has its adherents in political science and sociology. The dis- tinction between preferences and restrictions is fundamental in rational- choice models. Values become institutions that restrict choice. Bad conscience is considered to be a psychic cost. Commonly shared values are modeled as social norms. These restrictions are interpreted as tools that facilitate the coordination of behavior and, in that sense, as goods not provided by the market.9 7Hans Albert. 1978. Traktat uber rationale Praxis. Tubingen: Mohr. Gunther Jakobs. 1999. Norm, Person, Gesellschaft. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. 9Gary S. Becker. 1976. The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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52 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES On the other hand, second-generation models of rationality incorpo- rate values into a more nuanced understanding of preferences. In this perspective, preferences are no longer taken for granted; values are key to the formation of preference.~° A third view starts from the observation that two or more persons may share a given value. This is a way of add- ing context, or history, and leads to rational choices and behaviors that optimize values involving more than one individual. Sociology is concerned with the society-building function of values. Integration theory views values as a sort of a social glue. In the approach of systems theory, each subsystem for example, the economy, the law, or politics is held together by its particular formal code, such as price, legality, or power. The formality of the code opens subsystems up to flexible principles, or values, that may differ from society to society. Sociology also provides a way to interpret or measure how more general descriptions of a society such as its closed or open nature manifest themselves in particular value sets.~3 In psychology, which is concerned with explaining behavior, values arise in at least three different ways. They help the individual understand the social environment to which he or she reacts. They manifest them- selves as attitudes that help the individual choose between competing courses of action. And they motivate behavior, inducing the individual to translate attitude into action.~4 The study and practice of law are about formal institutions. The in- terpretation of statutes or the identification of analogous cases in law is inevitably shaped by values.~5 In legal methodology, this is called teleo- i°Elinor Ostrom. 1998. "A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collec- tive Action," Presidential Address of the American Political Science Association 1997, in American Political Science Review 92~1; March) 1-22. iiMark Granovetter. 1995. "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness," American Journal of Sociology 91~3; November): 481-510. i2Dirk Baecker. 2000. "Networking the Web," in Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller, eds., Understanding the Impact of Global Networks on Local Social, Political and Cultural Values, Law and Economics of International Telecommunications, Vol. 42, 93-111, Baden-Baden: Nomos. i3Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verbal 1965. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations: An Analytic Study. Boston: Little. i4John Robert Anderson, 1999, "Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications," New York: Freeman; Nicola Doring, 1999, Sozialpsychologie des Internet. Die Bedeutung des Internet fur Kommunikationsprozesse, Identitaten, soziale Beziehungen und Gruppen, Gottingen: Hogrefe; Sara Kiesler, Jane Siegel, and Timothy W. McGuire, 1984, "Social Psychological Aspects of Computer- Mediated Communication," American Psychologist 39:1123-1134; Sherry Turkle, 1996, "Construc- tions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUD's," The American Pros- pect 24 (Winter), available online at . i5Josef Esser. 1970. Vorverstandnis und Methodenwahl in der Rechtsfindung. Frankfurt: Athenaum.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 53 logical construction. In the modern world, where neither history nor di- vine authority establishes law, the legitimacy of the legal code is, itself, a normative question. In other words, laws need to be legitimated by val- ues.~6 And the law adds a helpful methodological distinction between rules and principles. Rules can be expressed in conditional terms: If A, then B. Principles are characterized by their finality. Those bound by a principle seek to realize it in each situation to which it might apply.~7 Values are more like principles than rules. Finally, cultural theory adds relativity to the picture. In this perspec- tive, value A is not only liable to be replaced by value B over a period of time. They might command attention at the same time, even though they may promote entirely different perspectives or even be somewhat contra- dictory. Cultural theory deliberately foregoes intellectual neatness and, on the contrary, investigates how societies manage to balance different solidarities, or value orientations. It thereby also helps us understand why and how values change. This rapid tour is obviously not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of the meaning of the term "values."~9 Indeed, our understanding of what values are, and what makes them "local," will always be tenuous and subject to change. However, the framework is useful in reminding policymakers of the many dimensions of the issue that must be consid- ered when examining the influences of global networks. Policymakers must also be aware of the functions that values serve as they consider where and when action is called for. The following sections address that question. i6It should be noted that a number of legal scholars, particularly in the United States, would argue that law and values are not quite as separable and values are not quite as arbitrary as is suggested in this paragraph. And Americans would not necessarily link law and formal institutions in the ways that Germans would. However, this formulation allows both German and American systems to be placed in the same framework and still allows for arguments that societal laws should conform to or reflect natural law which, in a sense, is an argument for how the legal code is legitimized. i7Robert Alexy. 1996. Theorie der Grundrechte. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. i8Michael Thompson. 2000. "Global Networks and Local Cultures; What Are the Mis- matches and What Can Be Done about Them?" Understanding the Impact of Global Networks on Local Social, Political and Cultural Values (Law and Economics of International Telecommunica- tions 42), Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller, eds., Baden-Baden: Nomos, 113-129. i9Further material elucidating the function of values for individuals, society, and govern- ment is to be found in Elkhart Scilicet, 1998, On Custom in the Economy, Oxford, England: Clarendon Press; and Bruno S. Frey, 1999, Economics as a Science of Human Behaviour, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publications.
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54 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES 3.3.2 Function for the Individual Values endow the individual with yardsticks a normative language that allows him or her to distinguish. They provide guidance on whether certain behaviors are desirable or not, and to what extent. They provide a basis for deciding on one's own behavior. But understanding, judging, and deciding are normally a balancing exercise, with several values com- ing into play, and not all of one's actions are actually guided by such a deliberate decision process.20 Nevertheless, it provides both comfort and assurance to have a set of values, and the capacity to apply them in a deliberate process of decision making, when faced with new circum- stances. The normative grammar of personal values also helps to form hy- potheses of what the behavior of other individuals means. And it helps predict how others are likely to react to a person's actions. In both ways, values serve as a cognitive tool to guide social behavior. Finally, an individual needs values for self-evaluation. Human be- ings require self-esteem, which comes from a sense of achievement. Per- sonal values tell the individual which achievements are worthy of self- esteem. Indeed, one can argue that values are a key to consciousness itself; many argue that consciousness presupposes the ability to look at oneself from the outside, and values are an instrument for doing so. By adopting a set of values, the individual effectively gains access to an ex- ternal reference that, in effect, provides the independent point of observa- tion that is necessary for consciousness. 3.3.3 Function for Society From a practical point of view, individuals are always part of some society. They may move from one society or social grouping to another throughout their lives, but each one contributes to shaping a person's val- ues and, in turn, displays values shaped by the individuals who comprise it. Some argue that the very notion of reality is socially constructed, and that individual values are socially pre-formed.22 Others go further, argu- 20For greater detail see Gird Gigerenzer and Peter M. Todd, eds., 1997, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2iWolfgang Kersting, 2000, "Global Networks and Local Values. Some Philosophical Re- marks from an Individualist Point of View," in Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller, eds., Understanding the Impact of Global Networks on Local Social, Political and Cultural Values, 9-27, Baden-Baden: Nomos; Doring (supra note 14~. 22Gebhardt Rusch and Siegfried Schmidt, eds. 1992. KonstruLtivismus. Geschichte und Anwendung. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 55 ing that only by defining himself or herself as a member of a normatively constructed society can an individual become a person, conscious and distinct from other animal species.23 Nevertheless, it makes sense to distinguish between the role that val- ues play for the individual and the related but distinct role that values play for society. Unlike the state, society is not a clear-cut concept and does not have precise boundaries. Each social interaction, from the most transient to the most permanent, from two individuals in a business trans- action to the citizens who make up a nation, is a manifestation of some form of society. Individuals may be part of a narrowly defined social group, such as a profession. They may view themselves as being part of a much more loosely knit network like the community of workers. The only link may be a territorial one, as for the inhabitants of a region. Or the social nexus may be the factual overlay of a legal condition, such as citi- zenship. The voluntary and virtual community of the Internet and its many epistemic (specialized) subgroups are, in this respect, merely a somewhat modified societal form. From the viewpoint of society, values basically serve three purposes. They convey information, they facilitate coordination, and they give the group an identity. Society is first and foremost an informational commu- nity. Precisely because they share values, members can interpret the be- havior of other members and establish expectations about it. This is par- ticularly important in judging the credibility of what one person says to another about his or her intentions or commitments that is, the individual's behavior in the future. The greater the extent to which the intended or promised behavior conforms to a common value, the more credible is the transmitted information. The communication of information is key to the coordination of be- havior, as game theory shows. If two individuals can't talk to each other before they act and share no common values, neither has a basis for mak- ing an educated guess as to how the other will behave. And if they talk to each other but do not understand each other's values, neither can predict whether the other will keep any promises made. Finally, some common value acceptance is the bedrock of group iden- tity. All members of the group must actually adhere to the value, and all members want to be sure that all others do so as well. Normative values form a cognitive framework for allowing individuals to understand social reality. Moreover, society organizes itself around shared values. Thus the function of society is to help individuals by guaranteeing values, and the function of these same values is to give cohesion and identity to the 23Jakobs (supra note 8~.
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56 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES society. Common values, in other words, are a key ingredient in societal integration.24 And integration reflects how society and the state are tied together. If a single local value is challenged or eroded, social cohesion and integration are unlikely to be deeply affected. Indeed, a society's set of values has never been totally stable over time. Traditional values have been challenged whenever a sufficiently large stratum of society has been exposed to different cultures. But society is an adaptive organism; it ad- justs to the new values, rebalances the old ones, and usually bends with- out breaking. However, all societies have certain values that are funda- mental for the self-definition of the group and that weaken group cohesion if challenged. When several such values are challenged simultaneously, rapid adaptation can be highly threatening. These, then, become important analytical benchmarks against which to judge the effects of global networks. But it is not easy to isolate the influence of global networks and in particular the Internet from other factors that affect local values. For example, in both Europe and the United States, post-World War II affluence and the application of many kinds of technology have promoted similar patterns of changes in val- ues albeit with differing trajectories.25 By altering people's perceptions of their nation's well-being and of their own well-being, affluence can indirectly alter local values and, across nations similarly situated, pro- mote some convergence of values. That convergence may either strengthen or weaken efforts to preserve remaining differences, as is evi- dent in the conflicts within the United States over multiculturalism and the implications of an increasingly heterogeneous, pluralistic society within with a single nation.26 3.3.4 Function for Government and Formal Institutions Legal formality distinguishes state and society. The state is what it is because its constitution defines it to be so. But such a formally constructed state can take almost any form. At one extreme, it is little more than a fiction the assertion, for example, of an exile group that controls no ter- 24Klaus G. Grunert. 1994. "Cognition and Economic Psychology," in Hermann Brandstatter and Werner Guth, eds., Essays on Economic Psychology, 91-108. 25Daniel Yankelovich. 1994. "How Changes in the Economy Are Reshaping American Values," in Henry J. Aaron et al., eds., Values and Public Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. 26See Yankelovich, ibid; also Nathan Glaser, 1994, "Multiculturalism and Public Policy," in Henry J. Aaron et al., eds., Values and Public Policy, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 63 3.6.2 The Effect of Global Networks on Value Orientations Although some advocates of cyber-culture argue otherwise, global networks do not themselves represent an entirely new form of society or a new state. At most, they give birth to new transnational social groups. Normally, they are no more than a new communication medium for per- sons who remain members of social groups that are rooted in real life. Global networks do sometimes make it easier to "leave" an original social group, or even a state, and become a member of a new group, society, or state. But the individual can not help but remain a member of his or her original group and state. The question, however, is whether the regular contact with global networks changes the relationship between the mem- ber and that original group or state. More specifically: does the use of global networks potentially change the individual's set of values in a way that alienates him or her more profoundly than before from the set of values embedded in local institutions?39 The answer to that question depends on how global networks affect value orientations. One can envision four possibilities: global networks are potentially globalizers, pluralizers, convergers, or de-contextualizers. That global networks potentially are globalizers sounds much like a truism. But with respect to values, it can mean two different things. The first interpretation is closely related to what economists call systems com- petition.40 An individual, who dislikes a specific value in Me local set, or the composition of that set more generally, uses global networks to exit from Me local environment. This could occur if and when global networks actually allow a person to leave the social group entirely. More likely, glo- bal networks might allow a person to split his or her activities in such a way that the activities viewed unfavorably by the local value system are out of the reach of those local institutions that enforce Me system.4~ In contrast to this rather passive role of global networks, one can also envision circumstances in which the networks serve to globalize a value. For example, Western societies, to a greater or lesser degree, endorse open and wide political discourse in which people can participate regardless of 39More from Richard Munch, 1998, Globale Dynamik, lokale Lebenswelten. Der schwierige Weg in die Weltgesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp; Ronald Robertson, 1992, Globaliza- tion, London: Sage; Benno Werlen, 1993, Society, Action and Space: An Alternative Human Geography, London: Routledge. 40Luder Gerken, ed. 1995. Competition Among Institutions. Basingstole: Macmillan. 4iChristoph Engel. 2000. "The Internet and the Nation State," in Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller, eds., Understanding the Impact of Global Networks on Local Social, Political and Cultural Values (Law and Economics of International Telecommunications 42~. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 201-260.
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64 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES gender or class. Networks promote a globalization of that value, which can lead to conflict with some traditional local values. Even in this in- stance, the global value may not replace the local one. It may only reach a segment of the local society or it may govern Internet activities alone while other local life is still governed by the traditional values. Or the new global value may simply offer an alternative another option from which members of the local society may choose (though not without risk). Although the globalization of values is not very frequent, Me pluraliz- ing effect of global networks is ubiquitous. Through global networks, an individual comes easily and frequently into contact win entirely unknown foreign values or with differently balanced sets of values. ~ Nat way, glo- bal networks force the individual to confront the fact mat value systems are fundamentally relative, and mat one lives in a pluralistic world.42 In later chapters, this is illustrated by me very different views mat Germans and Americans have about such issues as nudity, privacy, and the balance be- tween the right of free speech and protection against libel. On the other hand, there are those who fear that global networks, rather than exhibiting and celebrating pluralism, may actually promote an unhealthy convergence of values.43 Those who hold this view point to the fact that most global networks, and the Internet in particular, origi- nated in the United States. Even today, more than two-thirds of Internet traffic links American users and suppliers. Because of this history, these critics charge, most global networks are deeply influenced by U.S. value systems. The predominance of English, the preoccupation of most pro- viders with the U.S. political climate, and, above all, the democratic vital- ity of the traditional egalitarian Internet culture all contribute to what some outside observers characterize as U.S. cultural hegemony.44 Some convergence of values, of course, may be a necessary precondi- tion for truly global networks, or at least might facilitate their functioning. To the extent that it promotes formal values (and not just a set of conven- tions, such as the national agreement to drive on the right or the left side of the street), Netiquette is a case in point.45 42William Alton Kelso, 1978, American Democratic Theory: Pluralism and Its Critics, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press; Roman Herzog, 1987, "Pluralismus, pluralistische Gesellschaft," Evangelisches Stuatslexikon, Vol. 2, Roman Herzog et al., eds., 2539-2547, Stuttgart: Kreuz- Verlag. 43Benjamin B. Barber. 1998. "Pangloss, Pandora or Jefferson? Three Scenarios for the Fu- ture of Technology and Democracy," in Raymond Plant, Frank Gregory, and Alan Brier, eds., Information Technology: The Public Issues, Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 177-191. 44See Chapter 4. 45Its contents are repeated by Sally Hambridge, "Netiquette Guidelines," available online at (31.03.00~.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 65 Finally, global networks are de-contextualizers.46 Global networks promote social interaction, but these interactions are more context-free than any known before. The typical use of global networks is to retrieve information. There is no direct social contact between the person offering the content and the person accessing it; in most cases, the content pro- vider does little more than count the number of hits. In mailing lists, news groups, or chat rooms, the user has the option to respond, but the response is in writing, and only chat rooms allow real-time exchange. Meanwhile, the social exchange that occurs in global networks is largely unnoticed by third parties. If the individuals in communication are con- cerned about privacy, they can even encrypt the message. If they seek anonymity, they can use pseudonyms or remailers. But even if they take none of these precautions, the sheer amount of communication over glo- bal networks makes it impractical to control or even observe it. All this may threaten local values, as they must be embedded in and protected by formal and informal institutions. And insofar as these insti- tutions rely on third-party scrutiny and enforcement, it is hard to apply them within global networks. Even where local values have been im- planted in the conscience of the individual, they are not Internet-proof. For example, psychological research indicates that people pay less atten- tion to social mores and conventions when they communicate electroni- cally than in communicating face-to-face. Other work suggests that the more the situation isolates someone from the individuals that he or she affects, the more the person is comfortable in seeking a short-term advan- tage.47 3.6.3 Potential Impacts on the Local Set of Values The foregoing discussion provides a starting point for assessing how real the danger is that global networks will erode current local values. If the globalization of a value actually occurs, it obviously replaces a local value that differs from it. For example, it is likely that the proscription of all forms of child pornography will, over time, extend to all societies. If value-pluralizing influences are at work, the legal and social institutions protecting local values will be subject to competitive pressures, which may also result in forcing change. For example, the European commitment to 46Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff, 1993, The Network Nation: Human Communica- tion via Computer, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; Kiesler, Siegel and McGuire (supra note 14~; Turkle (supra note 14~. 47Joachim Weiman, 1997, "Individual Behavior in a Free Riding Experiment," Journal of Public Economics 54:185-200; Iris Bohnet, 1997, Kooperation und Kommunikation, Tubingen: Mohr.
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66 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES protecting individuals' private information from corporate misuse is put- ting pressure on U.S. institutions to conform. In both instances, if an in- fluential part of the population no longer believes that the traditional set of values should be upheld, a political process can be triggered that leads to their abolition or change. The privacy example above illustrates two forces at work in effecting change. Making the U.S. population, or influential segments of it, aware of the greater protection for individual privacy provided in Europe can lead people to press for similar protections in the United States. At the same time, U.S. commercial interests may be moved to encourage the pre- scribed institutional change in order to open European markets to Ameri- can e-commerce. Assessing the local consequences of homogenization the conver- gence of Internet values that is driven by the historical and hegemonic influence of the United States on its structure is somewhat more diffi- cult because it is hard to separate transient influences from longer-term change. In the short run, Internet language and content may be domi- nated by U.S. interests, and it is certainly conceivable that local patterns of communication and business practices will be affected accordingly. In the long run, however, it is entirely possible that the deeper penetration of global networks into local societies may allow for local adaptation that will enable the preservation of local institutions, and indeed, perhaps even increase their effectiveness. The erosion of the value orientation of individuals is much more likely than the erosion of institutions. The former depends less on globalization than on pluralization, homogenization, and, above all, decon- textualization. These phenomena tend to make a person's value orienta- tion less firm. The individual begins to doubt the legitimacy of a tradi- tional value, and if the alternative value encourages actions that are consistent with personal interest, it might appear more attractive and even guide the person's behavior. But behavior in very specific circumstances is only loosely tied to attitude,48 and this kind of "transgression" may only occur when the person is protected by the anonymity of the Internet. However, it is also possible that the network influence will be much stronger. The values of an individual are the result of a learning process. His or her contact with different value systems encountered in using global 48Icek Ajzen and Martin Fishbein, 1977, "Attitude-Behavior Relations: A Theoretical Analysis and Review of Empirical Research," Psychological Bulletin 84:888-918; Icek Ajzen and Thomas J. Madden, "Prediction of Goal Directed Behavior: Attitudes, Intentions, and Perceived Behavioral Control," Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 22:453-474.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 67 networks may start a new learning process, at the end of which the tradi- tional value is strongly diminished In the individual's own value system. Global networks can also have the opposite effect strengthening one's original values. This is obvious where global networks allow terri- torially scattered groups to maintain social ties. Community without pro- pinquity becomes a viable option.49 And global networks are not only pluralizers and de-contextualizers; they also give individuals new options for participation in social life and political decisionmaking.50 Advocacy coalitions have never before been so easy to build, and global networks make it much easier for the average citizen to gain access to government information.5~ All this helps create a greater sense of responsibility. The impact of global networks on local values need not be reduced to the simple dichotomy of erosion or corroboration. The use of these net- works can also lead to the modification of values or to the rebalancing of the set of values. Although this involves a complicated process of un- learning and relearning, it is an attractive possibility from a political point of view in that it can provide an evolutionary path to a more appropriate or legitimate set. The problem, of course, is that there is no guarantee that the new set of substantive values will be either more appropriate or more legitimate. During their histories, both U.S. and German society and state have man- aged to promote coexistence and cooperation within their societies with a small set of substantial values and a highly developed set of formal val- ues. Unlike traditional societies that rely on strong ties among their mem- bers, modern societies such as these two achieve cohesion among a large number of persons with ties that are deliberately weak rather than strong.52 In such societies, one does not expect an occasional business partner to help if one's family is in distress it is enough if the person pays his or her bills. Strong ties are limited to very small groupings: the 49Saskia Sassen, 2000, "The Impact of the Internet on Sovereignty: Unfounded and Real Worries," in Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller eds., Understanding the Impact of Global Networks on Local Social, Political and Cultural Values, Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 197-200; Thompson (supra note 18~. 50Anthony Downs, 1991, "Social Values and Democracy," in Kristen R. Monroe, ea., The Economic Approach to Politics: A Critical Reassesment of the Theory of Rational Action, New York: Harper Collins, pp. 143-170; Miles Kahler, 2000, "Information Networks and Global Poli- tics," in Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller eds., Understanding the Impact of Global Net- works on Local Social, Political and Cultural Values, Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 141-157. 5iSee Chapter 4. 52Siegwart Lindenberg. 1988. "Contractual Relations and Weak Solidarity," Journal of Insti- tutional and Theoretical Economics 144:39-58.
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68 GLOBAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL VALUES core family, one's closest friends, sometimes one's closest colleagues at work. Precisely because global networks confront a person with the relativ- ity of value systems, and the disconcerting effects of de-contextualization, there is a danger that individuals will react by seeking the comfort of a more structured, if simplistic, value system. They might be lured into replacing apparently eroded and weak ties with ones that are newly built and strong, although often unidimensional. The danger is all the more real if it is linked to institutions that typically redistribute wealth or power. Political opportunists might well exploit the situation by denouncing as a vacuum in values what is actually no more than a characteristic of mod- ern life. 3.6.4 Types of Contact with Foreign Sets of Values The pluralizing and homogenizing effects of global networks depend on the nature of the contact between individual and foreign sets of values. In principle, global networks are weaker in this respect than the tradi- tional media. Because the technology of global networks (e.g., search en- gines) allows users to specify the information they want to retrieve, there is less likelihood they will be exposed to information that does not fit the specification. Although it is true that today's users may be exposed to information (and hence to values) they did not seek when they follow a link, subscribe to a mailing list, or participate in a news group, technologi- cal trends toward greater specificity and precision in information retrieval suggest that inadvertent exposure will be less likely as time goes on. Thus, such exposure will be sporadic rather than systematic. Furthermore, Internet users need not be passive. If they dislike what they see, they are not only theoretically free to turn away but probably inclined to do so. Technically, an information provider may be able to use "push" technologies to force messages onto a subscriber's screen, but there is still a long way to go before global networks are transformed into pro- paganda machines. Still, the exposure to other values does have effects. For example, exposure to a different set of values can be significant for someone whose commitment to traditional values has been weakened. In this case, the different set may be attractive simply as a replacement. In such circum- stances, the Internet becomes the medium for a conscious learning pro- cess. Global networks also help that process gain social momentum, as they make it easy and inexpensive to spread information challenging tra- ditional values among others who are doubtful. There is another situation in which the impact of exposure to unfamil- iar ideas is subtler: A person may not realize the extent to which the les-
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 69 sons of a different value system have been absorbed. Only later will the individual come to recognize the contradictions between the implicit net- work value system and his or her traditional system. Such learning with- out attention is typical if values are embedded in apparently neutral con- tents such as in the goods and services shaped by foreign value systems. For instance, the cookies set by amazon.com to trace customer pur- chasing patterns give rise to a convenient service through which custom- ers logging onto the site are made aware of new books that might interest them. It was certainly easier for a service based on this technology to develop in the United States, where the protection of privacy is not as high a priority as it is in Germany. However, once they have enjoyed the convenience of the service, people in societies that may be more conscious of privacy as an important value may nevertheless view it in less absolute terms and come to believe that it is a tradable right, well worth relinquish- ing in particular circumstances. Although the possibility of eroding traditional values should not be overstated, learning a new value system does not lead inexorably to the replacement of traditional values. The real change brought about by glo- bal networks may be the realization that modern life encourages, and of- ten requires, living with multiple value systems. 3.6.5 Three Illustrative Examples Three examples may serve to illustrate the points made in this chap- ter. The first is consumer protection. In general, the German legislature and courts have been more active in protecting consumers against unethi- cal entrepreneurs than their U.S. counterparts. A consumer has a week to withdraw from a contract that has not been concluded in the premises of the provider or that the consumer has not solicited, and standard terms come under the close scrutiny of the courts. Marketing material is illegal if even a small fraction of those exposed to it are misled by its statements. These rules are an attempt to balance freedom of contract with protection of naive consumers to balance autonomy and paternalism. But in a glo- balized Internet-based market, when German customers buy goods and services over the Internet they can no longer be sure that a German court will be able or willing to protect them in the same way. A second example relates to the limitations of copyright protection. As long as hard copies were the only meaningful way to distribute intel- lectual or artistic works, a compromise between the interests of the author and of the public could be achieved: once a hard copy was sold, its owner was generally free to use it and to hand it over to third parties, and "fair use" exceptions allowed individuals to make copies or quote lengthy pas- sages of works. As more works begin to appear in electronic form, the
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 71 technical limitations that made the old compromise workable disappear. On one hand, a single digital copy can be multiplied and distributed at will, without any loss in quality, thus making practical almost any level of copyright violation. On the other hand, the ease of tracing or limiting the use of electronically published material at the source makes it practical to drastically reduce the scope of public use of the work. Thus technical changes are forcing legal institutions to forge a new balance between the rights of author and public.53 A third example is provided by new technologies that offer a stronger means of enforcement for local values. Take the desire of many Ameri- cans to ban nudity and sexually explicit material from the Internet, or the desire of many Germans to do the same with the portrayal of violence. At first glance, from a local viewpoint, there appears to be no rebalancing of interests at issue. Social norms already strongly limit broadcasting of nudity and sexually explicit material in the United States and of violence in Germany. To a considerable extent, these norms are even embedded in civil and criminal codes. Internet technology makes access to foreign sites with the locally restricted content easy, but there are some tools that can help localities deny or restrict access; hosts and Internet Service Providers can be compelled to prevent their customers from accessing sites with the locally banned content. Box 3.3 and Box 3.4 provide examples of governments seeking to regu- late content of foreign origin. Box 3.5 describes some of the tools that might be used to do so. But a closer look suggests that, as a practical matter, there has been a real change. In the past, practical limitations on enforcing the majority's norms provided a certain latitude for local minorities those who chose not to conform to the norms to evade detection. This led, de facto, to a balance between majority and minority rights that was not necessarily provided for de lure. The new technologies tend to reduce that leeway because they allow for more effective monitoring and control. Given that the balance between majority and minority rights was not explicit to be- gin with, it is not easy to restore when technological advances upset it. We have yet to see whether a networked world can find acceptable ways of achieving such a balance without appearing to compromise the values that gave rise to the original norms and legal structures. 53See for example, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, 2000, The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
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UNDERSTANDING LOCAL VALUES AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED 73
Representative terms from entire chapter: