University of Sussex
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On ‘the politics of repair beyond repair’: radical democracy and the right to repair movement

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-16, 13:14 authored by Javier Lloveras, Mario Pansera, Adrian SmithAdrian Smith
This paper analyses the right to repair (R2R) movement through the lens of radical democracy, elucidating the opportunities and limitations for advancing a democratic repair ethics against a backdrop of power imbalances and vested interests. We commence our analysis by exploring broader political-economic trends, demonstrating that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are increasingly shifting towards asset-based repair strategies. In this landscape, hegemony is preserved not solely through deterrence tactics like planned obsolescence but also by conceding repairability while monopolizing repair and maintenance services. We further argue that the R2R serves as an 'empty signifier', whose content is shaped by four counter-hegemonic frames used by the R2R movement: consumer advocacy, environmental sustainability, communitarian values, and creative tinkering. These frames, when viewed through Laclau and Mouffe’s theory of radical democracy, reveal different potentials for sustaining dissent and confronting OEMs' hegemony in the field of repair. Analysed in this way, an emerging business ethics of repair can be understood as driven by the politics of repair beyond repair. This notion foregrounds the centrality of nonviolent conflict and antagonism for bringing radical democratic principles to repair debates, looking beyond narrow instrumentalist conversations, where repairability is treated as an apolitical arena solely defined by concerns for eco-efficiency and resource productivity.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


Journal of Business Ethics





Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications
  • Business and Management Publications


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes