While in the sixties hackers were the heroes of cyberspace, they are nowadays often perceived as the archetype cybercriminal. From the perspective of labelling theory, this empirical study examines how hackers feel perceived by society at large, how they perceive themselves as ‘others’ and how they view themselves in relation to ‘others’. Our research shows that hackers – despite of an experienced negative labelling – view themselves as positive ‘others’. We conclude that the features of the hacking phenomenon itself (skillset, mindset, own morality) in combination with the digital context in which they operate, enable hackers to avoid a ‘spoiled identity’.
- Hacking, cybercrime, labelling, othering