What difference do data make? Data management and social change

Morgan E. Currie, Britt S. Paris, Joan M. Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The purpose of this paper is to expand on emergent data activism literature to draw distinctions between different types of data management practices undertaken by groups of data activists.

The authors offer three case studies that illuminate the data management strategies of these groups. Each group discussed in the case studies is devoted to representing a contentious political issue through data, but their data management practices differ in meaningful ways. The project Making Sense produces their own data on pollution in Kosovo. Fatal Encounters collects “missing data” on police homicides in the USA. The Environmental Data Governance Initiative hopes to keep vulnerable US data on climate change and environmental injustices in the public domain.

In analysing our three case studies, the authors surface how temporal dimensions, geographic scale and sociotechnical politics influence their differing data management strategies.

The authors build upon extant literature on data management infrastructure, which primarily discusses how these practices manifest in scientific and institutional research settings, to analyse how data management infrastructure is often crucial to social movements that rely on data to surface political issues. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-985
Number of pages15
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number6
Early online date22 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • civic data
  • data activism
  • data infrastructure
  • police data
  • statactivism
  • climate change
  • Law enforcement
  • data management strategies
  • design/methodology/approach
  • management infrastructure
  • management practices
  • information management
  • article
  • homicide
  • human
  • Kosovo
  • police
  • politics
  • social change


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