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Recovering critique in an age of datafication

Couldry, Nick ORCID: 0000-0001-8233-3287 (2020) Recovering critique in an age of datafication. New Media & Society, 22 (7). 1135 - 1151. ISSN 1461-4448

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1461444820912536


This article starts out from the need for critical work on processes of datafication and their consequences for the constitution of social knowledge and the social world. Current social science work on datafication has been greatly shaped by the theoretical approach of Bruno Latour, as reflected in the work of Actor Network Theory and Science and Technology Studies (ANT/STS). The article asks whether this approach, given its philosophical underpinnings, provides sufficient resources for the critical work that is required in relation to datafication. Drawing on Latour’s own reflections about the flatness of the social, it concludes that it does not, since key questions, in particular about the nature of social order cannot be asked or answered within ANT. In the article’s final section, three approaches from earlier social theory are considered as possible supplements to ANT/STS for a social science serious about addressing the challenges that datafication poses for society.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2019 16:12
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 23:36

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