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Accepted Paper:

Revisiting data justice: what justice? whose data?  
Azadeh Akbari (University of Twente)

Paper short abstract:

The paper situates data justice within different governance systems, questions if data justice is a meaningful analytical framework for data-related aspects of digital transformation, and underlines the realities of data justice to avoid its recuperation by international development organisations.

Paper long abstract:

The concept of data justice is increasingly becoming the centre of attention in digital transformation governance (Leslie et al. 2022) (Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services et al. 2022). Although the current scholarly debate on data justice includes socio-political aspects of datafication (Dencik et al. 2019), it still does not position them within political systems where datafication happens. This paper offers a political discussion of justice based on abnormal justice theory, in which parity of participation in political, cultural, and economic realms is necessary to achieve justice (Fraser 2008, 407). Accordingly, in many developing countries where participation chances are limited or denied, we face “metapolitical injustice” (Fraser 2008, 408). Although abnormal justice correctly identifies the problem with the politics of injustice in many semi-/undemocratic contexts, it offers no remedy other than calling those situations unjust. This paper uses the ladder of participation (Arnstein 1969) and its further conceptual development into the scaffold of smart citizen participation (Cardullo and Kitchin 2019) to reformulate participation. In doing so, participation is not seen as a heterogenous category but a nuanced reality that includes a spectrum of notions from non-participation to citizen power. By highlighting the politics of justice in data justice discourse, the paper aims firstly, to situate data justice within a multitude of political systems, secondly, to scrutinise if data justice is a meaningful analytical framework considering participation possibilities, and thirdly, to underline the realities of data justice to avoid its recuperation by international development organisations without engaging with its political depth.

Panel P04
Data justice and development [Digital Technologies, Data and Development SG]
  Session 4 Friday 28 June, 2024, -