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Ayelet Oz

Ayelet Oz

S.J.D. 2014

aoz at


The Law of Online Communities as a Part of a Legal Consciousness

Online communities, such as Wikipedia, free software projects and others, have created complicated internal regulatory systems. These legal orders adopt many of the characteristics of formal law. Their norms use the vocabulary and structure of formal law. At the same time, online communities challenge basic social and economic assumptions that underlie formal law. They aim to present an open, free and commons-based alternative to the Capitalist marketplace and hierarchy-based institutions. My dissertation will target this tension.

I will conduct ethnography of a community in order to see how are online legal orders created and governed. I will also track alternative discourses that are invoked in online communities to manage relationships and effect social control. Framing the larger compass of possible forms of social control and governance would enable me to look at the relationship between the political alternative posed by online communities and their use of conventional authority of law. Does the use of law undermine their radical project? Does the political alternative transform the nature of legal regulation? Or do the two coexist, as online communities introduce a radical new understanding of contemporary legal consciousness?

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Internet and Society with Professor Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School, Overall Faculty Supervisor
  • Legal Theory with Professor Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School
  • Sociology and Anthropology of Law with Professor Susan S. Silbey, MIT Anthropology

Additional Research Interests

  • The effects of system design on social norms
  • The politics of technology
  • Legal pluralism
  • Capitalism and law
  • Legal consciousness


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. 2009 – 2014
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program, 2008-2009
  • Tel Aviv University, LL.B., 2005

Last Updated: October 9, 2009