A significant new way of understanding contemporary capitalism is to understand the intensification and spread of data analytics. This text is about the powerful promises and visions that have led to the expansion of data analytics and data-led forms of social ordering. It is centrally concerned with examining the types of knowledge associated with data analytics and shows that how these analytics are envisioned is central to the emergence and prominence of data at various scales of social life. This text aims to understand the powerful role of the data analytics industry and how this industry facilitates the spread and intensification of data-led processes. As such, The Data Gaze is concerned with understanding how data-led, data-driven and data-reliant forms of capitalism pervade organisational and everyday life. Using a clear theoretical approach derived from Foucault and critical data studies the text develops the concept of the data gaze and shows how powerful and persuasive it is. It’s an essential and subversive guide to data analytics and data capitalism.

Introducing the Data Gaze

Standing at the centre of Jacques Derrida’s (1996) famous lecture on the archive is the shadowy figure of the ‘archon’. Displaying a strong sense of duty, ennobled by authority and carrying a whiff of the sinister, these archons not only controlled what was to be included within the walls of the archive they also dictated the means by which these documents were classified and rendered retrievable. Consequently, through their management of the ordering of these official spaces of accumulation, they had control over what that archive could be used to say. For Derrida, the power of the archive rested in the hands of these archons and was embodied in their practices, judgements and selections. Derrida’s point is that when data ...

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