The digital right to repair

A study of legal ideals, public controversies and messy practices

  • Period: 2023-01-01 – 2026-12-31
  • Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet


E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream globally. To mitigate the negative environmental impact e-waste has on the environment, the EU is currently drafting legislation for a Right to Repair (R2R). Given that an ever-increasing group of electronic devices is becoming connected and “smart”, R2R needs to concern both material (screws, batteries, etc.) and digital (software) repair in order to have real bite. Digital repair, however, is an underexplored aspect of the R2R. This cross-disciplinary project (social studies of waste, law and sustainable ICT) draws on theories and qualitative methods from Science and Technology Studies (STS) to study how the term repair is enacted in relation to software and the digital R2R. The project advances a conceptual and empirical perspective on digital repair practices and R2R through 3 empirical and interconnected studies on conflicts and negotiations relating to digital repair: public repair controversies on ownership and control; the political-legislative process of creating a R2R law in the EU; practices of digital repair and care in repair shops. The cases are studied using qualitative methods, i.e. document analysis and ethnography, and methods from the field of law and sustainable ICT. Outcomes of the project include the identification of barriers for a digital R2R, concepts that can contribute to overcoming these and an analysis of the extent to which the upcoming legislative EU proposals manage to create an effective digital R2R.

Keywords: Circular economy, e-waste, right to repair, interdisciplinarity

The projekt is part of the research initiative Waste values

Projektledare: Sebastian Abrahamsson, Katja de Vries, Per Fors