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Emerging models of data governance in the age of datafication.

Journal article
Authors Marina Micheli
Marisa Ponti
Massimo Craglia
Anna Berti Suman
Published in Big Data & Society
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords datafication, data governance, data infrastructure, big data, digital platforms, data politics, data policy
Subject categories Technology and social change


The article examines four models of data governance emerging in the current platform society. While major attention is currently given to the dominant model of corporate platforms collecting and economically exploiting massive amounts of personal data, also other actors, such as small businesses, public bodies and civic society, take part in data governance. The article sheds light on four models that emerge from the practices of these actors: data sharing pools, data cooperatives, public data trusts and personal data sovereignty. We propose a sociologically informed conceptualization of data governance. We used data infrastructure as an analytical lens to identify models as situated, contingent and relational instantiation of stakeholder roles, their interrelationships, and the organisations of mechanisms and arrangements in each model. Addressing the politics of data, we considered actors’ competitive struggles for governing data and how data subjects are made through them. This conceptualization brings to the forefront the power relations and complex nature of economic and social interactions within models of data governance emerging in an environment mainly dominated by corporate actors. The models show that civic society and public bodies are key actors for democratizing data governance and redistributing value produced through data. Through the discussion of these models, their underpinning principles and limitations, the article wishes to inform future investigations of socio-technical imaginaries for the governance of data. Since the policy debate around data governance is very active at the moment in Europe, we believe this article is a timely contribution to this relevant issue.

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