A Post-Capitalocentric Critique of Digital Technology and Environmental Harm: New Directions at the Intersection of Digital and Green Criminology

Abstract

Only recently have scholars of criminology begun to examine a wider spectrum of the effects of digital technologies beyond ‘cybercrime’ to include human rights, privacy, data extractivism and surveillance. Such accounts, however, remain anthropocentric and capitalocentric. They do not fully consider the environmental impacts caused by the manufacture, consumption, use and disposal of digital technologies under conditions of ecologically unequal exchange. The worst impacts of extractivism and pollution are borne by societies and ecosystems in the world’s economic periphery and contribute to an acceleration of planetary ecocide. Three examples illustrate our argument: (1) deep-sea mining of metals and minerals; (2) the planned obsolescence of digital devices while limiting the right to repair; and (3) the disposal of e-waste. Acknowledging the urgent need to reorient the trajectory of technology innovation towards more-than-human futures, we advance some ideas from the field of design research—that is, the field of scholarly inquiry into design practices—on how to decouple technological progress from neoliberal economic growth. We venture outside criminology and offer a glimpse into how design researchers have recently begun a similar reflective engagement with post-anthropocentric critiques, which can inspire new directions for research across digital and green criminology.

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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:167 to 181
Section:Part 2: Rethinking the Technology-Harm Nexus
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How to Cite
Bedford, L. ., Mann, M., Foth, M. ., & Walters, R. (2022). A Post-Capitalocentric Critique of Digital Technology and Environmental Harm: New Directions at the Intersection of Digital and Green Criminology. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1), 167-181. https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.2191

Author Biographies

Deakin University
 Australia

Dr Laura Bedford is a Lecturer in Criminology and member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University. Her areas of interest include green criminology, state-corporate crime, ecocide, political ecology, activism and resistance, and policing. She is currently researching the contested theories and praxis of just transition, degrowth and eco-socialism.

Deakin University
 Australia

Dr Monique Mann is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University. Dr Mann is an Adjunct Researcher with the Law, Science, Technology and Society Research Centre at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Marcus Foth is Professor of Urban Informatics in the QUT Design Lab and a Chief Investigator in the QUT Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC), Faculty of Creative Industries, Education, and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. He is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark. For two decades, Marcus has been at the helm of ubiquitous computing and human-computer interaction (HCI) research into interactive digital media, screen, mobile and smart city applications. This work has been adopted by industry and universities. His current research foci include: urban media and geoprivacy; data care in smart cities; digital inclusion and participation; blockchain and food supply chains, and; sustainability and more-than-human futures. Marcus is a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), a Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a member of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts.

Deakin University
 Australia

Reece Walters is Professor of Criminology at Deakin University. He is also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Open University the United Kingdom. His areas of research interest and expertise include green criminology, crimes of the powerful, and the sociology of criminological knowledge. He is particularly interested in the ways in which corporations and governments exploit and compromise the ‘essentials of life’, namely air, food and water for power and profit.