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Data Power in Action (2023)

(Publisher : Bristol University Press)

Author(s) : Ola Söderström & Ayona Datta

“A timely reflection on data power and resistance thanks to an impressive sequence of chapters by scholars of urban studies, digital geography, and computational culture. The political potential of urban data is thoroughly explored within theoretical frameworks of urban studies and critical geography.” Paolo Cardullo, IN3 Universitat Oberta de Catalunya


“This timely collection exposes the interplay between data, power, and the urban fabric extending the gaze well beyond the West. It is essential reading for understanding our urban future amidst datafication.” Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam and European University Institute


Ola Söderström is Professor of Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Neuchâtel.

Ayona Datta is Professor in Human Geography at University College London.


Drawing on the study of different cities in the Global South, this book explores how the intensive use of data changes politics, power relations, and everyday life in contemporary cities.

Across the volume, expert contributors show how urban actors, from the state to activists, are increasingly using data as a resource to empower their actions and support their claims, while also demonstrating how times of crisis are moments when the power of data is made visible.

Focusing on the different dimensions of data power and politics in the urban realm, this is an important contribution to our understanding of how datafication transforms the places in which we live and how we experience them.

Table of contents

Introduction: Urban data Politics in Times of Crisis - Ola Söderström and Ayona Datta

Part 1: Framing Urban Data Politics

1. Urban data, governmentality, capitalism, ethics and justice - Rob Kitchin

2. Platforms as states: The rise of governance through data power - Petter Törnberg

3. Data Ethics in Practice: Rethinking scales, trust and autonomy - Alison Powell

4. The contingencies of urban data: between the interoperable and inoperable - AbdouMaliq Simone

Part 2: Strategies

5. Experiments in practice: New directions in municipal data policy and governance - Sarah Barns

6. Webinars and War-rooms: Techno-politics of data in shaping COVID19 narratives - Ayona Datta and Ola Söderström

7. The Smartmentality of Urban Data Politics: Evidence from Two Chinese Cities - Robin Xu Ying, Federico Caprotti and Crison Chien

Part 3: Tactics

8. Platform work, everyday life, and survival in times of crisis: views and experiences from Nairobi - Prince K Guma

9. An urban data politics of scale: Lessons from South Africa - Jonathan Cinnamon

10. Beyond ‘data positivism’. Civil society organizations’ data and knowledge tactics in South Africa - Evan Blake, Nancy Odendaal, Ola Söderström

Epilogue: Data, crisis, and learning - Orit Halpern

Bibliographic Information

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1529233542
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1529233544


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