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The myth of the “data-driven” society: exploring the interactions of data interfaces, circulations, and abstractions

Lee, AJ and Cook, PS ORCID: 0000-0002-5985-193X 2020 , 'The myth of the “data-driven” society: exploring the interactions of data interfaces, circulations, and abstractions' , Sociology Compass, vol. 14, no. 1 , pp. 1-14 , doi: 10.1111/soc4.12749.

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Abstract

The prominence of data and data technologies in society,such as algorithms, social media, mobile technology, andartificial intelligence, have heralded numerous claims of therevolutionary potential of these systems. From publicpolicy, to business management, to scientific research, a“data-driven” society is apparently imminent—or currentlyhappening—where “objective” and asocial data systems arebelieved to be comprehensively improving human life.Through a review of existing sociological literature, in thisarticle, we critically examine the relationship between dataand society and propose a new model for understandingthese dynamics. “Using the concept of the informatic,” weargue the relationship between data and society can beunderstood as representing the interaction of several differentsocial trends around data; that of data interfaces (thatconnect individuals to digital contexts), data circulation(trends in the movement and storage of data), and dataabstraction (data manipulation practices). Data and datatechnologies are founded to be entwined and embedded innumerous social relationships, and while not all are fair andequitable relationships, there is ample evidence of thedeeply social nature of data across many streams of sociallife. Our three-part informatic framework allows these complexrelationships to be understood in the social dynamicthrough which they are witnessed and experienced.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lee, AJ and Cook, PS
Keywords: data, data technology, big data, mobile technology, informatic, data interfaces, data circulation, data abstraction
Journal or Publication Title: Sociology Compass
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 1751-9020
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/soc4.12749
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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