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Call for special issue papers

Justice, Power and Resistance: Social harms in algorithmic context

Guest edited by Hanna Malik, Nea Oljakka, Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi and Mika Viljanen

Abstract submission deadline: 1 July 2021
Full paper submission deadline: 15 January 2022 

The inevitable transformation into digital societies (Powell et al 2018) gives rise to a new set of questions concerning the conceptualization, control, prevention and study of social harms and crimes of the powerful. Social harm scholars argue that persistent societal structures and processes expose individuals and groups to a variety of harms during their lifespan (e.g. Tombs and Hillyard 2004; Pemberton 2015; Mitchell et al 2019; Canning 2020). Crucial to these claims is that harmful conditions deemed often as natural, unforeseeable or collateral, flow from societal arrangements and thus are preventable by alternative social, political and economic organization. The proliferation of AI and algorithmic technologies has had and will continue to influence the ability of nation-states to mediate social harms. 

Examples of algorithmic systems applied in public and private domains range from simple object recognition and classification algorithms to data-mining algorithms, and from recommendation systems to personalization and filtering algorithms. Ultimately, possibly someday, to imaginaries of general AI capable of genuine learning and creativity. These systems, on the one hand, could work to increase the efficiency, reliability and traceability of operations and decision-making. On the other, a growing number of studies from a range of disciplines reveals the socially harmful potential of AI, algorithms and smart technologies. Understanding the patterns of algorithmic transformation will enhance studies on the production and mitigation of harms in modern societies. 

Expanding on contributions of social harm and crimes of the powerful scholarship, as well as other critical approaches to study of harm, crime and criminal justice, this special issue seeks to explore the individual- and system-level harm production processes that AI, algorithms and smart technologies enable, facilitate or mitigate in different national and international settings.

  • how AI and algorithmic technologies influence social harm production in public and private domains
  • how the power dynamics underlining state-corporate relations, globalisation processes, and neoliberal austerity strategies influence the development, design, regulation and use of the new technologies
  • examples or case studies of algorithmic harms in public or private domains
  • strategies, regulatory approaches and bottom-up resistance attempts to the unexpected or adverse effects of AI-use, algorithmic and automated-decision making in different national and international settings.

We welcome both theoretical and empirical investigations for a special issue of Justice, Power and Resistance.

Abstract submissions should be no longer than 400 words and should include a title page with the author names and affilations. Abstract submission closes on 1 July 2021. 

Abstracts for the special issue will be selected in week 27. Full papers are due by 15 January 2022. First drafts of full papers will be first desk-reviewed by the guest editors. Papers that are selected to be sent out for review will be evaluated through a double-blind peer review with an initial decision expected within three months of submission. 

Original manuscripts considered for publication in this special issue should be between 6,000-8,000 words (full article) or 2,000 words (short intervention) and can focus on, but are not limited to the abovementioned, research questions. For guidance on how to prepare your submission, see our instructions for authors.

If you have any questions, please contact the guest editors; Hanna Malik (hanna.malik@utu.fi), Nea Oljakka (nemaol@utu.fi), Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi and Mika Viljanen.

You may also contact the Editors Lisa White, Ida Nafstad and Jon Burnett at jprjournal@outlook.com