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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, The myth of the 'data-driven' society: exploring the interactions of data interfaces, circulations, and abstractions, Sociology Compass, 14, (1) Article e12749. ISSN 1751-9020 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1111/soc4.12749


The prominence of data and data technologies in society, such as algorithms, social media, mobile technology, and artificial intelligence, have heralded numerous claims of the revolutionary potential of these systems. From public policy, to business management, to scientific research, a "data-driven" society is apparently imminent—or currently happening—where "objective" and asocial data systems are believed to be comprehensively improving human life. Through a review of existing sociological literature, in this article, we critically examine the relationship between data and society and propose a new model for understanding these dynamics. "Using the concept of the informatic," we argue the relationship between data and society can be understood as representing the interaction of several different social trends around data; that of data interfaces (that connect individuals to digital contexts), data circulation (trends in the movement and storage of data), and data abstraction (data manipulation practices). Data and data technologies are founded to be entwined and embedded in numerous social relationships, and while not all are fair and equitable relationships, there is ample evidence of the deeply social nature of data across many streams of social life. Our three-part informatic framework allows these complex relationships to be understood in the social dynamic through which they are witnessed and experienced.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:data, data technology, big data, mobile technology, informatic, data interfaces, data circulation, data abstraction
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social theory
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Cook, PS (Dr Peta Cook)
ID Code:136552
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2020-01-08
Last Modified:2021-01-27

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