Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Dudek, D. L. & Johnson, N. Frances. 2011, ''Return of the hacker as hero: fictions and realities of teenage technological experts'', Children''s Literature in Education, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 184-195.


When critics consider young people’s practices within cyberspace, the focus is often on negative aspects, namely cyber-bullying, obsessive behaviour, and the lack of a balanced life. Such analyses, however, may miss the agency and empowerment young people experience not only to make decisions but to have some degree of control over their lives through their engagement with and use of technology, which often includes sharing it with others in cyberspace. This was a finding of research conducted by Nicola Johnson, which also informs the two novels considered in this article, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Brian Falkner’s Brainjack. The article draws on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of acts of resistance (Acts of Resistance: Against the New Myths of our Time, 1998) to demonstrate how these fictional representations of hacker heroes make a direct address to their readers to use their technological expertise to achieve social justice. Rather than hacking primarily to “see if they can do it,” the protagonists of these novels acknowledge the moral ambiguity of hacking and encourage its responsible use.