‘Personal data literacies’: a critical literacies approach to enhancing understandings of personal digital data

Luci Pangrazio, Neil Selwyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The capacity to understand and control one’s personal data is now a crucial part of living in contemporary society. In this sense, traditional concerns over supporting the development of ‘digital literacy’ are now being usurped by concerns over citizens’ ‘data literacies’. In contrast to recent data safety and data science approaches, this article argues for a more critical form of ‘personal data literacies’ where digital data are understood as socially situated and context dependent. Drawing on the critical literacies tradition, the article outlines a range of salient socio-technical understandings of personal data generation and processing. Specifically, the article proposes a framework of ‘Personal Data Literacies’ that distinguishes five significant domains: (1) Data Identification, (2) Data Understandings, (3) Data Reflexivity, (4) Data Uses, and (5) Data Tactics. The article concludes by outlining the implications of this framework for future education and research around the area of individuals’ understandings of personal data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-437
Number of pages19
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Critical literacies
  • digital platforms
  • personal data
  • Personal Data Literacies
  • personal data literacies framework

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