Hacking and power: Social and technological determinism in the digital age


  • Tim Jordan Open University




Hacking, cracking, technological determinism, co-production, affordance


This article outlines the nature of hacking and then draws implications from this for understandings of technology and society in the digital age. Hacking is analysed as having a material practice related to computers and networks taken up by two core groups: crackers who break into other people's computers and network and the Free Software and Open Source who produce software based on an understanding of property as distribution. Hacking works constantly to develop determinations between technology and society in both directions. This conclusion is then theorised in relation to Hutchby's concept of affordances and is compared to classic accounts of technological determinism. Accounts of technology and society in the digital age need to consider both technological and social determinations, that such determinations are particularly fluid in relation to programming and that understanding power and politics in relation technology needs a concept of technological and determination.

Author Biography

Tim Jordan, Open University

Tim Jordan is a Reader in Sociology at the Open University. He has researched and published in both Internet Studies and Social Movement Studies. In relation to Internet studies, he has recently worked on a politically motivated hacking with Paul Taylor (Hacktivism: rebels with a cause, Routledge 2004) and is building on this and previous work on hacking communities to create an overview of hacking (Hacking: the culture and sociology of contesting digital media, Polity 2008). He is currently exploring the world of massive multiplayer online games both as a player and analyst. For social movement studies, he was a co-founder of the journal Social Movement Studies: journal of social, political and cultural protest, (Taylor and Francis) and published Activism!: direct action, hacktivism and the future of society (Reaktion).




How to Cite

Jordan, T. (2009). Hacking and power: Social and technological determinism in the digital age. First Monday, 14(7). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v14i7.2417