Technopolitics in the Age of Big Data
in 'Networks, Movements & Technopolitics in Latin America: Critical Analysis and Current Challenges.', edited by F. Sierra Caballero and Tommaso Gravante, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 95-109
17 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017 Last revised: 23 Jan 2018
Date Written: March 12, 2017
Data activism represents a form of technopolitics from the ground-up, which sees people’s active engagement with technologies for empowerment, equal participation and action, and has been able to challenge the traditional way of understanding and doing politics. We distinguish two forms of data activism: proactive data activism, whereby citizens take advantage of the possibilities offered by big data for advocacy and social change, and reactive data activism, which instead identifies grassroots efforts to resist and protect from massive data collection and political intervention. An example of proactive data activism is InfoAmazonia, which combines citizen participation and data analysis to generate alternative news and reports of the endangered Amazon region, based on the work of a network of organisations and journalists delivering updates from the nine countries of the forest. Based on original data collected through desk research and qualitative interviewing, this chapter combines political sociology with media studies (and alternative media and journalism in particular) in view of examining proactive data activist initiatives in Latin America, taking InfoAmazonia and its deployments as case studies. It contributes to our understanding of technopolitics as a way to reinterpret reality, empower people, facilitate action, and challenge the established social norms embedded in our understanding of technology and society, and helps us rethinking how data can restructure social reality, and in particular civil society action.
Keywords: data activism, Latin America, InfoAmazonia, proactive data activism, agency
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