This month was mainly spent reviewing references for a paper on darknet markets and illicit drug diffusion. It’s a fine thing to see the academic discussion developing alongside the maturing practices of this illicit market segment.
Great to see some studies of Telegram dealing coming out: Blankers, Matthijs, Daan van der Gouwe, Lavinia Stegemann, and Laura Smit-Rigter. 2021. ‘Changes in Online Psychoactive Substance Trade via Telegram during the COVID-19 Pandemic’. European Addiction Research 1–6. doi: 10.1159/000516853.
Services like Televend indicate a developing use of automation in illicit digital dealings which is going to be an interesting intersection of technology and market governance. With the greater focus on at-home automation by vendors like Apple, Google and others we may be seeing more integration there. Hopefully my Roomba won’t turn against me anytime soon.
Looking for research on cryptomarket governance turned up a comprehensive take by Meropi Tzanetakis, taking in resistance and internal governance. Tzanetakis, Meropi. 2019. ‘Informal Governance on Cryptomarkets for Illicit Drugs’. Pp. 343–61 in Governance Beyond the Law: The Immoral, The Illegal, The Criminal, edited by A. Polese, A. Russo, and F. Strazzari. Springer.
She makes the point that drug market gentrification appears mainly to benefit users in the Global North and within that the segment with high levels of economic and social capital. That has been borne out by the differential impact of COVID restrictions on users. We don’t really know enough about how users and dealers outside the West engage with these systems.
When reading one interesting work you are immediately punished by then finding a lot of others which you must read too, and other chapters in the same book demand a follow up: