Research money granted to investigate the digital right to repair electronic waste

13 december 2022

Electronic waste that is stored and repaired.

A collaborative project at Uppsala University will now study the emergence and societal consequences of this bill, with a focus on the repair of products with software.

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 empirical and interconnected studies on conflicts and negotiations relating to digital repair: public repair controversies on ownership and control;

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.

Funder: Swedish Research Council
Call for proposals: The societal consequences of digitalisation
Sebastian Abrahamsson, Sociologist, Uppsala University (Principal Investigator)
Per Fors, Industrial Engineering, Uppsala University
Katja de Vries, Department of Law, Uppsala University
Title of research project: "Den digitala rätten att reparera: en studie av rättsliga ideal, offentliga kontroverser och trassliga praktiker"