Designing Justice: Sexual Violence, Technology, and the Law

Project: Research project

Project Details


The institutionalization of technologies used to prevent, report, and prosecute sexual violence is signaling a shift in the dominant paradigm from a legal to a techno-legal response to violence. These new “anti-violence technologies,” which include mandated workplace panic buttons, AI rape reporting apps, and microchipped rape kits, raise urgent questions about how power and inequality are inscribed in law and technology as knowledge systems.1 Sociologists of law argue when socio-legal interventions are not coupled with sufficient, long-term scaffolding to promote gender equity, they will cease to be supportive tools for survivors.2 Similarly, sociologists of technology expose how failing to account for racial ideology encoded in technologies, means these systems will serve to reproduce racial injustice.3 Yet, few studies have engaged survivor, activist, and legal voices to identify how, if at all, anti-violence technologies could be redesigned to meet a broad spectrum of justice needs and contest the reproduction of racial and gender power dynamics. It is well-known the justice system is not a respite. Police physical and sexual violence is high,4 and prosecution rates are low.5 Without accounting for the role of race and racism in shaping access to justice, we will continue to adopt interventions that inadequately confront the power relationships that structure experiences of violence and interactions with police and the law.
Effective start/end date12/1/2012/31/21


  • American Sociological Association (SES 1755530 // SES 1755530)
  • National Science Foundation (SES 1755530 // SES 1755530)


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