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Title: Hacking (in)security : discourses and practices of politics, technology and activism
Author: Tanczer, Leonie Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 150X
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Hacking and politically motivated hacking, so-called hacktivism, are two phenomena that have received increased attention in the last years. Both are mentioned in news headlines, political speeches and academic publications; however, ambiguity remains concerning what the concepts actually encompass. Hacking and hacktivism are frequently entangled with debates on technological security and insecurity and portrayed as the epitome of cybersecurity threats. Due to this perception, and building upon the notion that such (in)securities are consequence of an (in)security construction, this thesis analyses the emerging (in)securitisation of hacking and hacktivism. The focus is on the European Union. To achieve this, the thesis makes use of a Bourdieusian framework and the International Political Sociology of the Paris School approach. Based on this analytical foundation, the ‘meta-field of cybersecurity’ is analysed. The thesis considers this meta-field to be set together through three distinct fields, including the field of (a) politics and bureaucracy within the EU; (b) the commercial cybersecurity sector; and (c) hackers and hacktivists. Using document analyses and interviews, the thesis investigates each social space individually and answers the following question: What characterises the (in)securitised discourses and practices of hacking and hacktivism in the meta-field of cybersecurity and how are they resisted and/or instrumentalised? The thesis uncovers each field’s perception of hacking and hacktivism and their discursive and non-discursive (in)security practices, comparing and contrasting the results. The findings confirm the ambiguity of the concepts. Yet, contrary my anticipation, more diverse and fragmented discourses and practices were identified. Hackers and hacktivists feel excluded and need to counter their (in) securitisation in some realms, but there is evidence of a more reflective engagement. This manifests itself in the repurposing of the term hacker in the field of politics and bureaucracy or the (am)bivalence of hackers and hacktivists identity in the commercial sector. Nonetheless, according to the interviewed hackers and hacktivists their (in)securitisation remains prevalent and is a major factor that justifies their discourses and practices. The diversity in perceptions and (in)security routines highlights the Importance of revealing these tensions, shifts, and (dis) continuities and enables a more informed engagement with these phenomena.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available