Data Justice: Examining Datafication and Social Justice

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Gellner Room
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 12:40pm
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Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 12:40pm

This presentation explores the meaning of social justice in an age of datafication. It is premised on two significant developments: 1) the shift to a focus on the collection and processing of massive amounts of data across social life and 2) the increasing concern with the societal implications of such processes. The technical ability to turn vast amounts of activity and human behaviour into data points that can be tracked and profiled has led to significant changes across government, business and civil society. Whilst the documents revealed by Edward Snowden led to important questions being asked about what this means for individual rights to privacy and the protection of personal data, concerns with datafication are now increasingly shifting towards a more explicit engagement with power (Dow 2016, Sylvia IV 2016). These concerns emphasise that data processes are not ‘flat’ and do not implicate everyone in the same way, but, rather, are part of a system of ‘social sorting’ (Lyon 2003) creating new categories of citizens (Ansorge 2016) that are premised on a new order of ‘have’ and ‘have nots’ between data profilers and data subjects (Citron and Pasquale 2014). In such a context, questions of social justice come to the fore in discussions of datafication and require detailed study. Dencik frames this research agenda around the notion of ‘data justice’. The term ‘data justice’ is intended to connote the intricate relationship between datafication and social justice by foregrounding and highlighting the politics of data-driven processes. In this presentation she will introduce some ideas as to what such an agenda might look like.

Lina Dencik is Senior Lecturer at Cardiff's School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and serves as Director for the MA Journalism, Media and Communications and the newly established Data Justice Lab. Her research concerns the interplay between media developments and social and political change, with a particular focus on resistance and globalisation. Recently, she has moved into the areas of digital surveillance and the politics of data and worked on the ESRC-funded project Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society and the project Managing Threats: Social Media Uses for Policing Domestic Extremism and Disorder funded by the Media Democracy Fund, Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations. 

She is the author of three books including Media and Global Civil Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Worker Resistance and Media: Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century (co-authored with Peter Wilkin, Peter Lang, 2015), and Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest: Between Emancipation and Control (co-edited with Oliver Leistert, Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015). She holds a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London and has previously worked at the Central European University in Budapest where she is still a Fellow with the Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS). Prior to that she worked as a television producer/director at Brook Lapping Productions in London.