Journal article Open Access

The New Computer Hacker’s Quest and Contest with the Experienced Hackers: A Qualitative Study applying Pierre Bourdieu’s Field Theory

Nycyk, Michael

K Jaishankar

Hacker forums are places for new hackers, newbies, to find information on hacking practices and to become part of a community. This study contributes to understanding ways newbies try to become accepted experienced computer hackers. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s Field Theory and its concepts, 500 threads from a forum were analyzed to see how newbies attempt to gain a place in the hacking field amongst experienced hackers. Thematic analysis methods were used to demonstrate how the forum’s field, and those within it, behaved to obtain what Bourdieu describes as cultural and social capital to obtain knowledge and skills to hack and become accepted hackers. The significant finding was the theme of contesting social capital. This showed the types of strategies employed by experienced hackers to prevent or hinder newbies obtaining the skills and knowledge, social capital, to achieve their hacking goals. This study gives insights in to new hacker’s motivations and strategies for becoming accepted hackers and gives suggestions for further research in this growing area. 

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