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Deconstructing datafication's brave new world

Couldry, Nick ORCID: 0000-0001-8233-3287 and Yu, Jun (2018) Deconstructing datafication's brave new world. New Media & Society. ISSN 1461-4448

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1461444818775968


As World Economic Forum’s definition of personal data as ‘the new “oil” – a valuable resource of the 21st century’ (2011: 5) shows, large-scale data processing is increasingly considered the defining feature of contemporary economy and society. Commercial and governmental discourse on data frequently argues its benefits, and so legitimates its continuous and large-scale extraction and processing as the starting-point for developments in specific industries, and potentially as the basis for societies as a whole. Against the background of the GDPR, this article unravels how general discourse on data covers over the social practices enabling collection of data, through the analysis of highprofile business reports and case studies of health and education sectors. We show how conceptualisation of data as having a natural basis in the everyday world protects data collection from ethical questioning while endorsing the use and free flow of data within corporate control, at the expense of its potentially negative impacts on personal autonomy and human freedom.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 SAGE Publications
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2018 12:02
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2024 02:15
Funders: John Templeton Foundation

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