Normfare: Norm Entrepreneurship in Internet Governance
This special issue is the first to systematically address the activity we call “normfare” - the assiduous development of norms of very different character (public and private, formal and informal, technically mediated and directly implemented) by different actors (platforms, standard-setters, states) as an answer to the wide range of challenges facing internet governance. We bring together contributions from leading anthropologists, technologists, political scientists, legal and communication scholars exploring how norms underpin the new ordering of the internet, whether in explicit or implicit forms. Through various theoretical lenses, contributions analyze the impact of platforms, states, civil society, expert groups and key individuals on restructuring the normative order of the internet, and present empirical evidence for instances of norm creation, legitimation, contestation and opposition. Valuable new insights for norm development processes come from case studies, ethnographies, legal and discourse analysis and interdisciplinary approaches locating agency and power plays. In this introduction, we define the key concepts applicable to norm entrepreneurship and discuss their interplay in internet governance debates, followed by an overview of the articles included in the special issue. In the final section, we reflect on the implications of our new research agenda.