Towards Democratic Auditing: Civic Participation in the Scoring Society

The project Towards Democratic Auditing: Civic Participation in the Scoring Society investigates avenues for participation and intervention in the increasing roll-out of data analytics systems. It analyses methods for placing citizen voice at the centre of the development, implementation and management of data systems, and it thus aims at enhancing democratic principles and practices in a datafied society.

Research

The project employs a diverse set of methods – incl. interviews, document analysis, stakeholder meetings and tool development – to address four distinct work streams: a) citizen interventions; b) institutional responses; c) civil society contexts; d) data literacy.

Output

Critical Data Literacy Tools: A Guidebook (pdf) (12 June 2020)

Events

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

Context

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 will run until May 2021. Funding for this project has kindly been provided by the Open Society Foundations.

Researchers

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.