We are very pleased to have a paper from the DSS project accepted for the 2019 Data Power conference in Bremen in September. This paper presents the initial findings from our ‘data journeys’ investigations during Phase One of the project. The title and abstract are ….
Tracing the mundane in/securities of the datafied school
Neil Selwyn & Luci Pangrazio
Adding to recent attempts to make sense of data power in relatively mundane contexts, this paper explores how digital data intensifies and extends inequalities and in/securities within secondary school settings.
The paper is one of the first outputs from a new three-year study of the datafication of Australian schools. Here we draw on the tradition of ‘trace ethnography’ to construct two case studies of the data narratives resulting from seemingly mundane events during a school day (a student arriving late for school; a teacher deliberating over awarding a test score).
In each instance, we follow the pathways of the individual data packets that result from these actions – first through the school’s local data infrastructure, and then quickly into global networks of the data economy.
Based on interviews, infrastructural-mapping, and data-log analyses, each of these ‘data narratives’ provides an evocative, thick and appropriately complex account of how data is being ‘done to’ individuals.
In particular, these accounts are used to map out the socio-technical assemblage of actors, technologies, standards and infrastructures that are implicit in the generation, maintenance and (re)circulation of school data.
In so doing, the paper unpacks emergent patterns of power, politics and agency associated with the datafication of everyday school practices. We conclude by considering what would be required for these forces to be challenged (and even subverted) by those currently subject to the datafication of their in-school actions and behaviours.