Towards Democratic Auditing: Civic Participation in the Scoring Society

DatafiedSociety LogoThe project Towards Democratic Auditing: Civic Participation in the Scoring Society investigated avenues for participation and intervention in the increasing roll-out of data analytics systems. It analysed methods for placing citizen voice at the centre of the development, implementation and management of data systems, and it thus aimed at enhancing democratic principles and practices in a datafied society. The 3-year project (2019-21) was funded by the Open Society Foundations.


The project employed a diverse set of methods – incl. interviews, document analysis, stakeholder meetings and observations of relevant practices – to address four distinct work streams: a) citizen interventions; b) institutional responses; c) civil society contexts; d) data literacy. Over the course of the project, these four work streams expanded into six themes that are analysed in more depth in the final report: institutional dynamics; models of civic engagement; oversight and advisory bodies; civil society; alternative imaginaries and infrastructures; data literacy.

  • Civic Participation in the Datafied Society (pdf)- a comprehensive report discussing the research findings in depth, published 31 August 2022
  • (31 August 2022) – Website summarising some of the key findings of the report and explaining them to a wider audience, launched 31 August 2022
  • Public Sector Guidebook (pdf) in English and Welsh – providing examples and best practices for involving the public in decisions about data, published 11 June 2021
  • Critical Data Literacy Tools: A Guidebook (pdf) – Overview of online tools raising people’s awareness and critical reflection of datafication, launched 12 June 2020

Civic Participation in the Datafied Society: 2nd Data Justice Conference, 20-21 May 2021

International multistakeholder workshop at Cardiff University to explore and discuss new practices of participation in the datafied society, 7 June 2019. You can read a workshop report here.


Citizens are increasingly assessed, profiled, categorized and ‘scored’ according to data assemblages, their future behavior is predicted through data processing, and services are allocated accordingly. In a ‘scoring society’, state-citizen relations become quasi-automated and dependent on algorithmic decision-making. This raises significant challenges for democratic processes, active citizenship and public participation. The project Towards Democratic Auditing addresses these challenges by investigating how citizens can intervene into the development and implementation of scoring systems and other forms of data analytics, and how they can advance civic participation in an increasingly datafied society.

Building on the project Data Scores as Governance which has provided the first comprehensive analysis of data-driven citizen scoring in the public sector in the UK, this project analyzes the practices, structures and constraints of citizen engagement with datafied governance, and aims at providing a comprehensive perspective on placing citizen voice at the centre of the development, implementation and management of data systems.

The goal is to advance scholarly debate, civic participation, government responsiveness, and public understanding. Focusing on the UK with comparative international case studies, the project will help enhance understanding of, and develop solutions for, civic participation in the datafied society.

The project started on 1st December 2018 and ran until May 2021. Funding for this project was kindly provided by the Open Society Foundations.


The project is conducted by a team incorporating the four co-directors of the Data Justice Lab and two research assistants: Arne Hintz, Lina Dencik, Joanna Redden, Emiliano Trere, Jess Brand, Harry Warne.