The Rehtoric of Hackers' Justifications

Orly Turgeman-Goldshmidt, Hebrew University

Hacking is a widely spread international phenomenon. Every now and than hackers' actions reach the media headlines. Researching the hacking phenomenon encompass the interesting relationship between new technology, identity and deviance. This study was designed to explore hackers' accounts. Understanding the concept of accounts in itself is important, because it enables us to comprehend how people view themselves in their cultural context. The study was based on unstructured, in-depth, face to face interviews wih 54 different kind of Israeli hackers, who were asked to tell their life stories. The interviewees were located by "snowball" or chain referral", sampling strategy. Studying the personal accounts given by computer hackers to explain their deviant behavior can teach us more than simply the justifications that hackers use in order to structure a coherent and positive image of themselves. Their accounts also reflect the cultural milieu in which these justifications develop and are accepted as valid explanations of behaviors. Hackers do not live in a vacuum. They reside in and take part in mainstream society, accepting its normative values and operating within them, as it was seen from their unique accounts.

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Updated 05/20/2006