TOPIC & RELEVANCE
'Big data' has been a major issue in internet-related public debate for several years now and it is yet unclear what impact big data has on societies, politics and markets. We conceive ‘big data’ as constituted by three components: the automatic generation of very large and diverse data sets which are mainly the result of the digitisation of modern societies, their processing by algorithms and their use for decision-making and regulation, in the private or public sector. This includes purposes such as profiling, monitoring, predictive analysis and risk calculation.
Mayer-Schönberger&Cukier claim that big data is a “revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think” (2014). But whereas revolutions imply a profound shift in power relations, there is little scientific evidence about whether and, if so, how big data affects power relations.
We understand power as the production, in and through social relations, of effects that shape the capacities of actors to determine their fate. Power opens up or closes off options to act for parties involved and it is multi-dimensional: it is influence over others, empowerment, the capacity to act and to self-discipline.
SCOPE OF THE SPECIAL ISSUE
The aim of the special issue in the Internet Policy Review is to explore the extent to which big data shapes society by influencing power relations and, in return, how the development of big data-related phenomena is itself shaped by power relations.
We welcome proposals that address power relations linked to big data phenomena in various fields, as long as they bear a relevance to European societies and highlight policy implications or make a reference to regulatory debates.
Papers can have both a more conceptual or a more empirical focus. This call for papers is open to researchers from the fields of policy studies, sociology, law, philosophy, data, information and technology studies, economics and management and related fields. Emerging scholars are particularly encouraged to submit a proposal.
FOCUS OF THE PAPERS
As stated above, scientific knowledge about which power relations shape the “big data society” is still scarce. Yet much has been said about the many promising and worrying aspects of a society built on predictive analysis, machine learning and algorithmic regulation, and various implicit and explicit hypotheses about the power effects of big data have emerged in the academic and public debate.
BEST PAPER AWARD
Click here for the submission of the Abstract of the paper.