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