Welcome to Love Data Week! Be sure to check out the Love Data Week Guide for resources, activities and challenges. We’ll also be sharing a few Engage posts on issues surrounding the theme of data as an agent of change. Today’s post looks at the relationship between data literacy and data justice.
Data literacy is the ability to identify, retrieve, evaluate and use information to both ask and answer essential questions (Crusoe, 2016). It is a critical life skill in today’s data-driven world, particularly with regard to everyday thinking and reasoning for solving real-world problems. As daily interactions with data become the norm, people must often make judgments from data and make decisions regarding the use of their own personal data.
The term data justice encompasses a complex and multifaceted set of ideas. It considers, through an equity focus, the ways in which data is collected, analyzed, interpreted, and distributed. Data justice relates to the ethics of personal data privacy, big data, and decision making that results from the datafication of modern culture, with an emphasis on the equitable distribution of human rights in a society where data are increasingly used as a tool to classify people (Goldkind, Wolf & LaMendola, 2021).
Pertaining to the theme of data as an agent of change, data can be a double edged sword in causes of social justice. The increasing prevalence of access to big data and open data have enabled people to actively participate in conversations regarding social justice issues on local and international levels. Conversely, issues surrounding data literacy, including a lack of understanding regarding how personal data is produced, disseminated and used have made marginalized communities susceptible to exploitation, particularly with regard to inherent biases in algorithms that categorize people based on attributes such as economic status, gender or race (Knight, Matuk & DesPortes, 2022).
Given this dichotomy, it is increasingly evident that data literacy, the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data, is an imperative skill necessary to participate in social justice conversations. The “development of critical, socio-technical pedagogic approaches to understand and analyze data…contribute to shaping informed and transformative democratic practices and dialogue empowering citizens to address social justice concerns” (Raffaghelli, Atenas & Havenamm 2020).
If you would like to learn more about data literacy, data justice, and their roles in higher education, please consult the resources below or visit the Data Literacy Guide.
Crusoe, D. (2016). Data Literacy defined pro populo: To read this article, please provide a little information. The Journal of Community Informatics, 12(3).
Goldkind, Wolf, L., & LaMendola, W. (2021). Data justice: social work and a more just future. Journal of Community Practice, 29(3), 237–256. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705422.2021.1984354
Knight, Matuk, C., & DesPortes, K. (2022). Guest Editorial: Learning at the Intersection of Data Literacy and Social Justice. Educational Technology & Society, 25(4), 70–79.
Raffaghelli, E.(2020). Is Data Literacy a Catalyst of Social Justice? A Response from Nine Data Literacy Initiatives in Higher Education. Education Sciences, 10(9), 233–. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10090233
Raffaghelli, J., Atenas, J., & Havemann, L. (2020). Open Data as driver of critical data literacies in Higher Education. [Abstract].