Dealing with uncertainty on anonymous online drug markets (DYNAMICS)
Meropi Tzanetakis was principal investigator of the Erwin Schrödinger project ‘Dealing with uncertainty on anonymous online drug markets’. This project aimed at developing an economic sociology approach to understanding how social interactions enable market exchange on anonymous drug markets.
Meropi conducted multi-sited digital ethnographic research on socially and culturally embedded practices of cryptomarket users. In recent years, new technological developments on the Internet allow users to proceed with illicit drug transactions with almost completely anonymous identities and locations.
These innovative technologies include anonymising software for communication purposes and virtual currencies such as Bitcoin for payments.
At the same time, supply and demand serve to self-regulate and develop a significant and growing drug market that systematically bypasses drug policy. The project was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).
Virtual Drug Markets – Relations between conventional and online drug dealing’ (VIDRO)
Meropi was leading the subproject VIDRO, which was part of the collaborative research project DROK (Organisierte Kriminalität zwischen virtuellem und realem Drogenhandel). The research project (2014-2016) involved a total of nine partners from academia, the industry and public sector in Austria and Germany.
Online drug marketplaces as well as research on darknet markets are relatively new phenomena. Understanding how this new way of vending drugs impacts upon sellers and customers is critical if we are to better understand the current context of drug market dynamics.
The aim of the project was empirically investigate the degree to which a shift from traditional to online drug trafficking has occurred and to what extent the actors and structures operating on darknet drug-markets are the same as offline ones.
VIDRO employed a combination of classical qualitative research methods and innovative approaches and methods like web scraping and anonymous online interviews. The project received funding from the Austrian Security Research Programme KIRAS of the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology.