Critical (big) data studies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter critically examines the concept of “big data” and the associated claims of using big data to solve myriad social and scientific problems. Four myths associated with “big data” are discussed. These are: (1) data are given; (2) “big data” is a natural resource; (3) numbers speak for themselves; and (4) everything is already digital. Each of these is critiqued and shown to be wanting. This is done by using examples of big data in different social and scientific application domains, and by drawing on insights from the philosophy of science and technology, science and technology studies (sts), and the emerging field of critical data studies. The conclusion raises a number of questions, the answers to which will enable people to engage critically with big data and to contribute to the development of critical big data studies. The conclusion also reflects on the author’s own use of data to support her arguments.keywordsbig datacritical theorystsandrew feenbergcritical data studiestechnologymythsmetaphorshumanitiesethnography.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Necessity of Critique
Subtitle of host publicationAndrew Feenberg & the Philosophy of Technology
EditorsDarryl Cressman
ISBN (Electronic)9783031078774
ISBN (Print)9783031078767
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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