Big Data and surveillance: Hype, commercial logics and new intimate spheres



Ball K & Webster W (2020) Big Data and surveillance: Hype, commercial logics and new intimate spheres. Big Data & Society, 7 (1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951720925853

Big Data Analytics promises to help companies and public sector service providers anticipate consumer and service user behaviours so that they can be targeted in greater depth. The attempts made by these organisations to connect analytically with users raise questions about whether surveillance, and its associated ethical and rights-based concerns, are intensified. The articles in this special themed issue explore this question from both organisational and user perspectives. They highlight the hype which firms use to drive consumer, employee and service user engagement with analytics within both private and public spaces. Further, they explore extent to which, through Big Data, there is an attempt to expand surveillance into the emotional registers of domestic, embodied experience. Collectively, the papers reveal a fascinating nexus between the much-vaunted potential of analytics, the data practices themselves and the newly configured intimate spheres which have been drawn into the commercial value chain. Together, they highlight the need for conceptual and regulatory innovation so that analytics in practice may be better understood and critiqued. Whilst there is now a rich variety of scholarship on Big Data Analytics, critical perspectives on the organising practices of Big Data Analytics and its surveillance implications are thin on the ground. Combined, the articles published in this special theme begin to address this shortcoming.

Surveillance; organisational context; intimate spheres; Big Data Analytics; commercial logics; informational trajectory

Big Data & Society: Volume 7, Issue 1

FundersSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online14/05/2020
Date accepted by journal22/04/2020
PublisherSAGE Publications

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Professor William Webster

Professor William Webster

Personal Chair, Management, Work and Organisation