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Please consider submitting a paper to our session E07 until midnight CET on February 14th, 2018.


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Katja, Guillén, Stefania



After Data Activism: reactions to civil society's engagement with data





* Guillén Torres (University of Amsterdam)

* Katja Mayer (Technical University Munich)

* Stefania Milan (University of Amsterdam)



       Short abstract


This panel focuses on data practices that hinder rather than foster civil society's political engagement. We invite you to discuss how data governance, data science and social technologies are co-producing asymmetries of power.



       Long abstract


By foregrounding the constitutive power of information to shape social reality (Braman, 2006), recent approaches to datafication have highlighted data's active role in configuring new ways of engaging politically with -while dissolving the barriers between- public policy, economy, science, nature and culture (Milan & van der Velden, 2016). Thus, the term data activism has been used to study practices in which data plays a crucial role in shaping civil society's agenda, in particular when taking action against governmental or corporate practices of injustice or misinformation. Today, various actors embrace the "data as new oil" metaphor and we even witness multiple forms of "open-washing" of politics and economies (e.g. transparency). Other actors however, have lately shown reluctance to support civic engagement with data, implementing strategies of information control at different scales: from the enactment of government-wide policies that make difficult access to data, to recurrent denials of information requests, passing by the wilful production of the opaqueness of Automated Decision Making or scoring systems.


This panel focuses on how certain actors are taking advantage of information's capacity to shape social reality, with a special focus on data practices that resist rather than foster citizens' political engagement. We invite you to discuss how mechanisms of information control produce and sustain asymmetries of power, often in complicity with data science and social technologies. We further welcome contributions focused on experiences with data activism through the mobilisation of open data and public sector information, or dealing with the political aftermath of data-driven projects.




Dr. Katja Mayer

Post-doctoral research fellow


Computational Social Science and Big Data

Bavarian School of Public Policy

Technical University of Munich

Richard-Wagner-Str. 1

80333 Munich GERMANY


Newly published:

Current Challenges in Patent Information Retrieval 2nd ed. (M. Lupu, K. Mayer, N.Kando, A. Trippe)

Springer Information Retrieval Series