Future Anthropology Ethics and Datafication: Temporality and Responsibility in Research

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In this article, we argue for an ethics of big data that is embedded in the emergent processes through which data are made, interpreted, and mobilized in mundane everyday contexts and examine how this could potentially be played out in research practice. We situate this as a response to a current crisis in accountability that has arisen in the context of the use of digital data to inform societal interventions, which we propose calls for a future-oriented anthropological ethics situated in the ongoingness of life. Such a standpoint offers a revised approach to temporality and attends to the ethics of intervening and engaging with the uncertainty of what is as yet unknown rather than simply with an ethics of the past. It offers us an opportunity to think differently about big data and ethics and to create an alternative ethics for big data and their analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Media + Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • big data
  • ethics
  • ethnography

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