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Deviance and Ethical Considerations in Online Biohacking Communities
Deviant Behavior  (IF1.982),  Pub Date : 2021-09-10, DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2021.1976606
Maryja Šupa, Ingrida Kruopštaitė


While the last decade has seen a rise in research on biohacking from the perspective of social studies of technology, anthropology, sociology, and legal studies, there remains a gap in the criminological understanding of biotechnology in general and biohacking in particular. To contribute toward such a perspective, the research project aims to establish how the construction of social norms, deviance, and ethical concerns are perceived and discussed in online biohacking communities. Adapting a cultural criminological approach, we see technological counter-cultures as focal for understanding how norms are reinvented around novel social practices. On the basis of a qualitative content analysis of more than 600 discussion threads from 7 online communities (including a mailing list, three forums, a Facebook group, and two subReddits), we outlined expressions of deviance and ethical considerations among do-it-yourself biologists, grinders, and members of the quantified self scene. The results showed that biohacking communities had a nuanced separation of the technological and ethical aspects of activities that are considered controversial in the public discourse, and an ambivalent relationship to the legal and informal normative realms.