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You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1500 titles.
Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
This chapter discusses data minimalism as means of digital disengagement. It focuses on the case of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), a German hacker association that is known for high levels of digital skills and tech-political expertise. Specifically, it examines members’ ‘hacktivism’ during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to COVID-related technology such as contact-tracing apps, the CCC presented recommendations and strategies for digital disengagement through data minimalism and technological downgrading. Advocating for partial or more substantial digital disengagement, the hacker association stressed that digital approaches are not preferable per se: instead, their adequacy should be assessed in relation to the specific problem, while also considering the advantages of low(er)-tech options. In this way, the hacker association confronted data expansionism and tech solutionism, which were flourishing under the pretext of epidemiological urgency. In exploring the CCC’s hacktivism, this chapter elaborates on digital disengagement as an informed choice and a matter of agency rather than an involuntary ‘anomaly’.
How can we achieve digital justice in the age of COVID-19? This book explores how the pandemic has transformed our use and perception of digital technologies in various settings. It also examines the right to resist or reject these technologies and the politics of refusal in different contexts and scenarios. The book offers a timely and original analysis of the new realities and challenges of digital technologies, paving the way for a post-COVID-19 future.
The change in the level and forms of digital engagement under pandemic conditions relates to transformation of the work–life balance in terms of organization of daily life – especially in creative labour, in which the distinctions between leisure and work are already blurred. This study aims to understand the transformation in the daily life of creative workers through the ‘new’ forms that digital engagement took during the pandemic. In this research, I took a self-reflective approach and used an autoethnographic method to understand the effects of digital engagement and its indicators in daily life as triggered by COVID-19, focusing on work–life balance. Reflecting on the impossibility of digital unavailability and work–life balance during the pandemic, this study frames a critical discussion on the viability of opting out of digital technologies/networks as a right that should be defended especially by creative workers against flexible capitalist exploitation in every aspect of our lives.
This chapter discusses environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and, more specifically, the impact of the overall shift towards digital technologies during the pandemic and in post-pandemic times. Drawing on small-scale observations of UK media coverage and a pilot systematic review of academic publications, the chapter focuses on the striking absence of intersections between discussions around pandemic digitization and questions of climate change and environmental degradation. The chapter considers two key elements of the digital disengagement paradigm: denaturalizing the digital, and using digital reduction and refusal as a starting point, rather than as an afterthought. In doing so, the chapter foregrounds digital reduction, refusal and opt-out, seeking new visions that promote climate-driven digital disengagement, instead of merely documenting digital harms or ways in which they are ignored.
This chapter problematizes the racialization of digital engagement and digital solutionism, and how they reinforce dominant ideologies of power, race and digitality. I examine how Tokyo Olympics 2020 was promoted and ultimately realized during a global pandemic, despite mass protests and the tremendous human and financial costs incurred by Japan. I propose the double notion of both forcing and enforcing digitality. In the context of Tokyo 2020, not only was opt-out not a viable option, but one that actively carried a financial penalty, thus making compliance necessary. As such, I critique how the forcing and enforcing of Tokyo 2020 was grounded upon geopolitical inequalities of engagement and disengagement. In the process, I explore the naturalization of digital, social and economic dis/engagement as situated within a pandemic time–space that brought together the need for material labour, digital productivity and consumption. Ultimately, I argue that Tokyo 2020 represents a moment when digitality – presented as the ‘safe’ revolutionary solution – was weaponized, commodified and exploited by both the International Olympic Committee and Japan, as inter-related and mutually complicit forms of racialized digital engagement, both serving their own ‘project’ of economic, political and socio-cultural dominance.
This book began with a critical question – ‘What is the place of digital refusal in the fabric of pandemic and post-pandemic life?’ – which emerged as part of our collective reflection on the rise in digitization during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. The process of answering this question was often accompanied by the rapidly diminishing possibility of stepping away from compulsory digitalities. Bringing the paradigm of digital disengagement that challenges the normalization of the digital (and of digital solutionism in particular) and foregrounds opting out and refusal as a starting point, the book thus explores a number of aspects of digital disengagement in pandemic and post-pandemic times.
In 2020, the world experienced an unprecedented global crisis that destabilized existing social, cultural, legal, economic, ethical, medical and digital structures in different contexts and countries. In tandem, the world saw a rapidly increased use of digital technologies across various spheres in science, technology and society: from public health, to education, politics, work and everyday life. In many instances, the newly introduced technologies were compulsory, or seen as necessary and unavoidable. Introduced as temporary measures, they often remained even after the initial ‘need’ had gone away. This book is an invitation to reflect on these developments, by asking how can we understand – and be critical of – new forms and practices of digital technologies and networked communications? How might they challenge, reinforce and/or maintain existing, normative inequalities, injustices and infringements to human and data rights around the world? What new dilemmas were created by shifting much of work, education and everyday interactions into online environments? What new data grabs have emerged or become normalized? And finally, what spaces and possibilities are there to resist encroaching digitality? What is the place of digital refusal in the fabric of pandemic and post-pandemic life?
This chapter frames the situation regarding menstrual and fertility apps in the context of post-pandemic health app-ization and datafication, which lead to increased digital surveillance and digital authoritarianism. This chapter shows how acutely aware women are becoming of how vulnerable apps and the personal data contained therein are making them in relation to state surveillance capitalism. Social media discourse and sentiment analysis are used to understand how, in the immediate aftermath of the overturning of Roe vs Wade in the US, women and their allies strove to effectively delete data, digitally disengage, algorithmically disrupt data or opt-out of sharing their data via period-tracking apps. Tracking practices of deletion, disruption and opt-out, this chapter theorizes digital disengagement as a form of resistance, addressing the ongoing tensions that can arise between a more technologically informed public and the authorities in terms of the need to protect rights to self-track health without criminalization.
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, people in the US reported sending more personal mail to stay in touch with friends and family. They also began posting more images of their mail on the very same social media platforms that handwritten letters circumvent. Drawing from research on digital disengagement, platform aesthetics and media nostalgia, I conducted a textual analysis of hash-tagged Instagram posts from three popular letter-writing campaigns that sprung up during the pandemic: Letters Against Isolation, The Big Send and Penpalooza. In this chapter, I investigate how campaign participants represent, aestheticize and potentially idealize letter writing as a disengaged media practice on Instagram. Ultimately, I argue that pandemic letter writing and sharing constitute a form of additive disengagement, building and intermingling online and offline networks across the globe. However, I also maintain that this does not exempt them from the power hierarchies and political pitfalls of publicly performing non-participation.
In exploring the relationships between the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies and social injustices, this book strives to go beyond individual acts and practices of refusal and opt-out, and address these in broader socio-political contexts. As editors, we were privileged to learn of, and be inspired by, the work of Seeta Peña Gangadharan and Patrick Williams. In true pandemic fashion, we met over a Zoom call to ask them about their work and their thoughts on the rise of digitization during the pandemic years, and the shrinking of possibilities to escape or refuse the prescribed use of technology. Transcribed and lightly edited, the conversation is presented in the chapter.