Category Archives: data and society

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A video recording of the talk “Understanding data power from a feminist perspective”, which I gave at the 3rd International DATA POWER Conference global in/securities, an be accessed here. (hosted by the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen in cooperation with the Universities of Carleton, Canada, and Sheffield, UK, 12-13 September 2019)

You can read the relevant chapter in Fotopoulou, A. (2019). Understanding citizen data practices from a feminist perspective: embodiment and the ethics of care. In Stephansen, H. and Trere, E. (eds) Citizen Media and Practice.Taylor & Francis/Routledge: Oxford. See Google Books here 

An updated written version will appear in my forthcoming book Fotopoulou, A. Forthcoming. Feminist Data Studies: big data, critique and social justice. SAGE Publications.

Paper abstract

This theoretical paper introduces how the notion of “care”, as developed in feminist science and technology studies (de la Bellacasa 2011), can be a productive analytical and critical approach when scrutinizing the manifestation of power relations in data practices. The matters of power and the politics of data have far reaching implications for the politics of the everyday. The paper argues that approaching such political issues in data practices as “matters of care” allows us to account for their affective, embodied and material elements, including the habitually devalued human labour of data users, activists, producers, consumers and citizens. Outlining the differences between justice (Dencik et al. 2016, Taylor 2017) and ethics approaches to data power, it is further shown that, guided by the question “Why do we care?”, the notion of care inserts particularity and empathy in social justice frameworks. The paper provides examples of areas of application of an approach to data power guided by feminist politics of care, alongside issues of data governance, regulating the data-driven economy and data privacy laws. In this way the paper maps a theoretical roadmap of feminist data studies and practice theory, which is focused on materiality and embodiment and is committed to unsettling the power relation of race, class, gender and ability in datafied worlds.

References

de la Bellacasa, M.P., 2011. Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social studies of science, 41(1), pp.85-106.

Dencik, L., Hintz, A. and Cable, J., 2016. Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism. Big Data & Society, 3(2), p.2053951716679678.

Taylor, L., 2017. What is data justice? The case for connecting digital rights and freedoms globally. Big Data & Society, 4(2), p.2053951717736335.

 

We Need to Talk About Robots: Gender, Datafication and AI

Talk at Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster

Date And Time

Thu, 21 November 2019, 17:00 – 19:00 GMT

Location

University of Westminster

309 Regent Street, Room: RS UG04

London W1B 2HW

View Map    

Book here 

 

Tangle of colorful electric wires and cablesThis talk reviews how the acceleration of data infrastructure development and growing adoption of data practices in everyday life are entwined with wider cultural discourses about gender and sexuality. Using artificial intelligence (AI) assistants and social robots such as Alexa and Siri as an example, it analyses these links from a feminist data studies perspective focusing on three key themes.

First, it discusses the production of gender in everyday data practices, approaching everyday interactions and the household as sites of datafication. While the household is an ideological site central in the consumption of innovative technologies and the reproduction of hierarchical gender and labour relations, contemporary data technologies introduce unique new sets of conditions.

Second, the talk examines normative inscriptions of femininity and masculinity in the design of AI technologies. Questioning binary thinking and the “black-boxing” of gender identity in data studies, it considers the role of queer subjectivity and experience in the production of scientific knowledge.

Finally, the talk reflects on recent reports of symbolic and physical violence inflicted by data, and the vulnerabilities that automation and datafication represent for women, people of colour, and marginalised communities. It examines such data harms and vulnerabilities in relation to dominant perceptions of AI assistants and robots as “social actors” to illustrate the cultural and social contradictions that the domestication of robots introduces. This way the talk reinstates central questions of power and social justice in relation to new and emerging data technologies.

Feminist approaches to data practices at Data Power Conference

Our panel “Feminist approaches to data practices” has been accepted at the 3rd International DATA POWER Conference global in/securities, hosted by the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen in cooperation with the Universities of Carleton (Canada) and Sheffield (UK), 12-13 September 2019.

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Here is the line-up of papers, in alphabetic order, and the panel rationale.

  • Lina Dencik: “Situating data (justice) in critical social theory”
  • Catherine D’Ignazio & Lauren Klein: “Data Feminism”
  • Aristea Fotopoulou: “Understanding data power from a feminist perspective: embodiment and the politics of care”
  • Stefania Milan: “What feminist theory of datafication emerges from contemporary data activism?”

PANEL RATIONALE

Data-based systems and technologies pose pressing issues in relation to social justice, and there is great need for focused and explicit critiques that addresses intersecting structural inequalities such as gender, race, ability and sexuality. Embarking from conceptualisations of data practice, this panel explores how feminist theoretical, methodological and praxis approaches can help us understand the structures of power and privilege is datafied worlds.

The programme will be announced soon.

Audience, Datafication and the Everyday pre conference

I look forward to speaking at this exciting European Communication Conference (ECC) pre conference in Lugano, on the 31st October with fantastic co-panelists, organised by Ranjana Das (University of Surrey) and David Mathieu (Roskilde University), and supported by the Audience and Reception Studies section of ECREA.

11:00 to 12:45 Round table. Panellists for roundtable are –

Chair: Dr David Mathieu, Roskilde University, Denmark

Do check the Call for Papers and consider submitting, it will be a great day.