Seminar T?itle: Crossing bridges: From digital drug markets to the platform economy
S?peaker: Dr Meropi Tzanetakis
Date: 29 November 2022 (in-person event, lunch provided)
T?ime: 12:30 - 14:00 (lunch from 12:30 - 13:00, seminar & discussion from 13:00 - 14:00)
V?enue: Whitworth Building - Council Chamber, Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9PL
Summary: Selling and buying illicit drugs on the Internet is not new. What is new, however, is the widespread use of digital platforms to mediate exchange between buyers and vendors. With this, the use of encryption technologies has also increased to reduce the risk of exposure to police. As a result, barriers to access drugs have been lowered. The ubiquity of mobile devices is also shaping everyday routines and social practices of drug users and dealers. What is also new is that the online and the offline realms are inseparably connected to each other. After all, drugs ordered online must be handed over offline one way or another.
These developments have raised important but underexplored questions for criminologists, sociologists, and social scientists in general, as well as computer scientists and practitioners. Are digital drug markets embedded in the wider process of digitalisation? Can the concept of platform capitalism be applied to the operation of digital drug markets? If so, what are possible implications for how we approach this form of cybercrime?
Meropi Tzanetakis’ talk will focus on the relationship between digital drug markets and the infrastructure of platform capitalism. This talk will discuss the design of digital drug platforms to extract data on the activities of their users and how the vast collection of user data feeds into the accumulation of capital.
Dr Meropi Tzanetakis is a Lecturer in Digital Criminology at the University of Manchester. She is also a Research Affiliate with the Governance of Digital Practices Research Platform at the University of Vienna. Meropi’s research contributes to two lines of research. First, it explores how digitally mediated forms of drug-related deviance emerge and how traditional forms of demand and supply change. In doing so, she contributes to the emerging field of digital criminology. Second, it explores how drug distributing platforms emerge as infrastructures that mediate between different user groups. The rise of the platform to the dominant business model is widely discussed as platformisation. In relation to both research directions, Meropi applies critical social theories and combines digital and analogue research methods. Her research has appeared in high-impact journals such as the International Journal of Drug Policy and Qualitative Research, among others. She edited Drugs, darknet and organised crime. Challenges for politics, judiciary and drug counselling (with Heino Stöver) and a special issue on Drugs and Digital Technologies (with Bernd Werse) of Kriminologisches Journal. As part of her FWF-funded Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship, Meropi was a visiting researcher at the University of Essex (UK) and the University of Oslo (NO). Prior to that, she was a guest researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin (DE). Meropi is editorial board member of the interdisciplinary journal Kriminologisches Journal and elected board member of the Economic Sociology Research Network of the European Sociological Association.