Aims & Scope

The Journal of Sociotechnical Critique is a no-fee open-access peer-reviewed scholarly journal that seeks to support theoretically-engaged critical, public, and activist work at the intersections of philosophy of technology, internet studies, communications theory, library and information science, environmental ethics, and related fields.

We hold that digital media and online culture call for new, agile social-critical theory that should be published quickly and without paywalls in order to ensure that high-quality research that takes place within swiftly-changing technological landscapes is available while it is as relevant and lively as possible, to as many readers as possible.

We hold that the divide between theory and practice is artificial; that the proper response to theoretical positions may be direct engagement or action and, conversely, that direct engagement or action can provide insight and understanding at a theoretical level.

We hold that public engagement and direct action can be a proper part of scholarship and research; that, as social-critical scholars, working on implementations is legitimate research activity for us just as it is for our colleagues in engineering.

We hold that insofar as scholarship makes normative claims about policy, public opinion, or contemporary activities or beliefs, it is a legitimate part of scholarship to engage directly with the public; that when we take up the task of bringing our scholarship to bear in public—rather than hoping it will be noticed by journalists or commentators, and that those journalists or commentators should happen to have ability, motivation, time, and commitment enough to understand and communicate it clearly—this is not a derivative or mere application of research, but is itself a productive scholarly act which increases knowledge, information, and impact just as does any other original research.

We hold that the purpose of emphasizing peer-reviewed work in tenure and promotion processes is to ensure that a candidate’s own scholarly community recognizes and certifies the value of the candidate’s work within the field, and that it is, therefore, our responsibility as social-critical scholars to inform tenure and promotion committees of the legitimacy of public and activist work in our area by ensuring that it can be represented in the form of peer-reviewed publications, so that this work appears rightly in the ‘research’ category of scholarly activity rather than being misrepresented as ‘service’.

We publish peer-reviewed work in three categories:

Research Articles:

We welcome critical and theoretical work related to the character, processes, structure, and meaning of life in our contemporary sociotechnical contexts. Articles should normally run from 3000–8000 words, with exceptions as warranted. Articles may be purely theoretical, or may include case studies, applications, or other empirical work, but the primary intent of the article should be to critique and intervene at a theoretical level.

Public Scholarship:

We welcome analytical post-scripts to already-published critical and theoretically-grounded writing for a general audience concerning technology, digital culture, and information society. The previously published public-scholarship should normally run from 800–3000 words, and should have previously been published in a mass-media publication not more than 12 months prior. Submissions should include a link to the already-published public scholarship and a post-script of not more than 3000 words that should provide context, commentary, and citations which the author wishes to provide to a scholarly audience which were burdensome or inappropriate in the original public-oriented article, as well as insights for further research, since public scholarship is not merely an application of theory but itself can generate new knowledge and understanding. The post-script also provides an opportunity for public scholars to provide notes that may be of value to readers who are learning how to pitch articles to editors or how to productively engage with publics. Republication in this journal allows public scholars to add a layer of peer-reviewed certification to public engagements that reviewers find to be sufficiently robust and substantive.

Active Research:

We welcome critical and theoretically-grounded field reports about or autoethnography of active research, including field philosophy, action research, direct action, engaged or participatory research, activist scholarship, policy work, consultancy, and work in and with industry, on issues related to technology, digital culture, and information society. At the intersection of social-critical theory and technology, theory is enriched, informed, and critiqued by practical action within existing institutions, and active research of these kinds can provide distinctive value to both theorists and practitioners. Articles should normally run from 3000–8000 words, and should consist of theoretically-grounded accounts of authors’ activities, projects, and initiatives, and their impacts and insights. Publication in this journal allows practically active and activist scholars to add a layer to peer-reviewed certification to active research that reviewers find to be sufficiently robust and substantive.