D04
Outlaw innovation and the invention of the outlaw

Convenors:
Johan Soderberg (Göteborg University)
Maxigas . (Lancaster University)
Stream:
Conflict, dissolution, contest
Format:
Location:
Bowland Hall Main Room
Start time:
25 July, 2018 at 15:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

The panel investigates innovation processes driven by antagonistic relations between actors on both sides of the law. Three empirical fields exemplifying this dynamic are the surge of legal highs, information security, and crypto-currencies. Other case studies of outlaw innovation are also welcomed.

Long abstract:

The panel investigates innovation processes driven by antagonistic relations between actors on both sides of the law. We invite case studies of how mutual hostilities between actors are pursued through technological change, whereby each actor seeks to gain an edge against their adversary. Three empirical fields that exemplify this dynamic are the surge of legal highs, information security and crypto-currencies. More examples of the same thing can be found in other fields of empirical investigation and suit this panel. What we will examine under the label of "outlaw innovation" is how conflict breeds innovation. Related to this is an awareness of the tenuous relation between legislation and innovation. The "outlaw" is just another word for an innovator. Concurrently, however, capitalism strives relentlessly to subsume and integrate its own outside, turning this unknown into innovation and new markets. From this observation follows that the purported outsider position ascribed to various grassroots innovators, users, etc., must be scrutinized. States, capital and academic actors work in conjunction with these outlawed/independent researchers to produce a shared language of common concerns around risks and opportunities inherent in technological innovation, such as in the Tor project. The legal grey zone thus emerges as an incubator of innovation for legal businesses. We encourage paper submissions utilizing diverse theoretical approaches and a wide range of case studies to explore the concept of the "outlaw innovator".