Cybercrime is (often) boring : infrastructure and alienation in a deviant subculture

Collier, Ben and Clayton, Richard and Hutchings, Alice and Thomas, Daniel R. (2021) Cybercrime is (often) boring : infrastructure and alienation in a deviant subculture. British Journal of Criminology, 61 (5). pp. 1407-1423. azab026. ISSN 0007-0955 (

[thumbnail of Collier-etal-BJC-2021-Cybercrime-is-often-boring-infrastructure-and-alientation]
Text. Filename: Collier_etal_BJC_2021_Cybercrime_is_often_boring_infrastructure_and_alientation.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (474kB)| Preview


The boredom and alienation produced by capitalist societies and countervailing forces of attraction and excitement are at the heart of the subcultural account of crime. The underground hacker subculture is no exception, commonly represented as based around exciting, technically skilled practices and high-profile deviance. However, the illicit economy associated with these practices has become industrialized, developing shared infrastructures that facilitate the sale of illicit services rather than skilled technical work. We explore how this shift in the nature of work has shaped the culture and experiences of this subculture. Developing a novel concept—the 'illicit infrastructure'—and drawing on an extensive analysis of empirical data from interviews and novel data sources such as forums and chat channels, we argue that as they industrialize, deviant subcultures can begin to replicate the division of labour, cultural tensions and conditions of alienation present in mainstream capitalist economies.