Article: The ghost in the legal machine

Harkens, A. (2018) “The ghost in the legal machine: algorithmic governmentality, economy, and the practice of law”, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 16 Issue: 1, pp.16-31.


This paper aims to investigate algorithmic governmentality – as proposed by Antoinette Rouvroy – specifically in relation to law. It seeks to show how algorithmic profiling can be particularly attractive for those in legal practice, given restraints on time and resources. It deviates from Rouvroy in two ways. First, it argues that algorithmic governmentality does not contrast with neoliberal modes of government in that it allows indirect rule through economic calculations. Second, it argues that critique of such systems is possible, especially if the creative nature of law can be harnessed effectively.