An Analysis of Big Data on Health: Critique is Not Optional

What follows is the material presented at the  ‘Vice and Virtue: the Rise of Self-Tracking Technologies and the Moralising of ‘Health’ Behaviours’ on the 10th-13th May 2016 Brocher Foundation, Switzerland (

An Analysis of Big Data on Health_001

An Analysis of Big Data on Health (pdf file of slides)

The abstract for what is a WORK IN PROGRESS 

can be accessed here….

The ‘social’ has always been a commercial and scientific resource – now in the digital age the competition regarding claims to which disciplines have justified understandings of this domain have intensified. The social sciences need to defend their subject area in order to preserve it. An application of the netnographic approach (Kozinets, 2010), social network analysis, data mining and machine-learning tools to highlight the certainties and uncertainties of Big Data and the Health Industry in order to start the process of uncovering the social and cultural forces that they are appropriating. What follows is the application of the tools of Big Data analytics on those that conduct Big Data analytics. There are competing discourses surrounding ‘Big Data’ and Health. On the one hand business, marketing and advertising interests are promoting Big Data as information that no longer requires theory or the scientific methodologies of old. On the other are voices from the academy; digital humanities and computational social sciences that wish to benefit from the volumes of available data. It is these (and other) competing discourses that are the target of this research. This paper argues that those engaged in ‘data without theory’ are generating a relational social mechanism similar to that of self-fulfilling prophesies of Merton, the network effects of Coleman and the bandwagon effects of Granovetter (Donati, 2015:66) and leaving no room for critique. (Continue reading)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.