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Introduction. Politics of Big Data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages10
JournalDigital Culture and Society
Issue number2
PublishedDec 2016


King's Authors


This special issue offers a critical dialogue around the myriad political dimensions
of Big Data. We begin by recognising that the technological objects of Big
Data are unprecedented in the speed, scope and scale of their computation and
knowledge production. This critical dialogue is grounded in an equal recognition
of continuities around Big Data’s social, cultural, and political economic
dimensions. Big Data, then, is political in the same way in which identity, the
body, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity are political, that is, as sites of struggle
over meaning, interpretations, and categorisations of lived experience. Big Data
is political in the way circuits of production, distribution, and consumption are
political; that is, as sites where access, control and agency are unequally distributed
through asymmetrical power relations, including relations of data production.
Big Data is political in the way contemporary politics are being reshaped
by data analysis in electoral campaign strategy, and through state surveillance
as strikingly evidenced by the Snowden revelations on the NSA and GCHQ.
Big Data is also political in the contestation of this advanced scientific practice,
wherein the generation of data at unprecedented scale promises a precise and
objective measure of everyday life.

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