The Cyborgian Deviant: An Assessment of the Hacker through Actor-Network Theory

Wytske van der Wagen

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When we think of technocrime, it is immediately “the hacker” who comes to mind, a somewhat mystical figure who can do seemingly magical as well as malicious things with technology. Throughout history, various scholars, including criminologists, have sought to grasp the hacker phenomenon so as to unravel hackers’ techno-culture, identity, and mentality. The current study is one of them, yet it does so from a novel, less anthropocentric angle. Drawing on the cyborg-lens of actor-network theory, which considers the human and the technical as non-separable, this study conceives the hacker as a “cyborgian deviant:” a transgressive blend of human and technology. Such perspective puts the human-technology relationship more on the frontline of the analysis, enabling us to gain a more nuanced understanding of how hackers’ (deviant) relationship with technology can take shape. Based on 10 interviews with hackers, the study revealed that being and becoming a hacker cannot be understood in separation from how they interact with, through, and against technology. Whether engaged in licit or illicit hacks, hackers seek to simultaneously set, explore, and extend the boundaries of technology and themselves, while also blurring the boundaries between good and evil along the way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-178
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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