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Academic secures major ERC grant

15 January 2018

Image of people walking overlaid with computer code
The project will explore our understanding of datafication in relation to social justice.

Dr Lina Dencik of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies has been awarded a prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council worth €1.4M.

The ground-breaking five-year project, which starts this month, will research the collection and processing of data across social life and will examine the impact of these processes on particular communities and the implications for social and economic rights.

The project will employ two PhD students with backgrounds in social sciences and two post-doctoral research assistants, the first with expertise in data science and the second with expertise in policy and law.

Dr Dencik said of the project, "The project will explore the meaning of social justice in an age of datafication. For example, increasing emphasis is being placed on the fact that data processes are not ‘flat’ and do not implicate everyone in the same way, rather, they are part of a system of ‘social sorting’, creating new categories of citizens, and premised on an emerging order of ‘have’ and ‘have nots’ between data profilers and data subjects.

"In such a context, it's essential that questions of social justice are studied in relation to datafication and the findings used to inform future processes."

The project, which is considered to be ground-breaking in several respects, will challenge dominant understandings of data by highlighting its relation to social and economic rights and also by breaking down disciplinary boundaries in understandings of technology, power, politics and social change.

The project will also benefit significantly from the research efforts of Dr Arne Hintz and Dr Joanna Redden, co-directors with Dr Dencik of the School's recently established Data Justice Lab.

During the course of the project, the research team will produce a comprehensive series of eighteen academic and practitioner-oriented deliverables, thus ensuring the findings practically engage with and positively impact the organisations and communities at the heart of these data driven processes.

Resources and outputs relating to the project will be made available on the project-dedicated platform, which will launch in the coming weeks.

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