Crime in the Age of the Smart Machine: A Zuboffian Approach to Computers and Crime


This analysis ruminates on the quintessential qualities that underpin the relationship between computers and crime by drawing from the foundational work of Shoshana Zuboff, a scholar whose work has to date been largely ignored in the study of crime. From this perspective, computers are best described as “informating” machines that require “intellective skills” in both licit and illicit forms of work. The first part of this analysis describes the role of such skills in the commission of computer-related crimes and considers factors that affect the degree to which such skills are necessary for perpetration. The second part considers how a Zuboffian approach can inform examinations of other subjects that have historically been considered important for criminological inquiries, including learning and subculture, the emotional experience of crime, and perceptions held by offenders and victims.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-03-01
Pages:225 to 238
Section:Part 2: Rethinking the Technology-Harm Nexus
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How to Cite
Steinmetz, K. F. (2022) “Crime in the Age of the Smart Machine: A Zuboffian Approach to Computers and Crime”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1), pp. 225-238. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2136.

Author Biography

Kansas State University
 United States

Dr. Kevin Steinmetz is a Professor of Criminology at Kansas State University. He primarily conducts research in the areas of cybercrime, criminal justice and popular culture, and race and criminal justice.  His recent books books include Hacked: A Radical Approach to Hacker Culture and Crime (2016, NYU Press), Technocrime and Criminological Theory (2018, Routledge, co-edited with Matt R. Nobles), and the  third edition of Cybercrime & Society (2019, Sage, co-authored with Majid Yar).