Data Politics

Ruppert, Evelyn; Isin, Engin and Bigo, Didier. 2017. Data Politics. Big Data & Society, 4(2), pp. 1-7. ISSN 2053-9517 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The article raises political questions about the ways in which data has been constituted as an object vested with certain powers, influence, and rationalities. We place the emergence and transformation of professional practices such as ‘data science’, ‘data journalism’, ‘data brokerage’, ‘data mining’, ‘data storage’, and ‘data analysis’ as part of the reconfiguration of a series of fields of power and knowledge in the public and private accumulation of data. Data Politics asks questions about the ways in which data has become such an object of power and explores how to critically intervene in its deployment as an object of knowledge. It is concerned with the conditions of possibility of data that involve things (infrastructures of servers, devices, and cables), language (code, programming, and algorithms) and people (scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, information technologists, designers) that together create new worlds. We define ‘data politics’ as both the articulation of political questions about these worlds and the ways in which they provoke subjects to govern themselves and others by making rights claims. We contend that without understanding these conditions of possibility – of worlds, subjects and rights – it would be difficult to intervene in or shape data politics if by that it’s meant the transformation of data subjects into data citizens.

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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding from a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant (615588) supported the writing of this commentary. Principal Investigator, Evelyn Ruppert, Goldsmiths, University of London.


Politics, fields, power, rights, citizens, professions

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP) [2016-]


10 June 2017Accepted
3 July 2017Published Online
1 December 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

06 Nov 2017 16:49

Last Modified:

14 Apr 2021 09:40

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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