Data Justice and Critical Data Studies

Data Justice and Critical Data Studies scholars are concerned with key issues at the intersection of technology and society, which often include the construction and use of data as it impacts people and communities. Scholars from many social science and humanities fields are often focused on critical questions of data access, power and equity, which are key to data justice and data studies. 

Data Justice and Critical Data Studies involve the historical, cultural, societal elements of data. With a specific focus on justice, scholars across many fields at UCLA are exploring and critiquing power dynamics–from the social construction of data, to the communities upon which data projects are experimented, to public policies affecting data, technology, and media landscapes. These scholars are often studying the local and global systems and processes of the production and analysis of data and technology. These researchers often wrestle with questions about who has and should have access to data, who ascribes values to data and their point of view, as well as how data is used, for what purposes, and who benefits or is being harmed by those uses. At the core of data justice is the goal of ensuring a range of possibilities that include justice, fairness, accountability and equity.

Around the world, scholars across disciplines are concerned with data justice questions. Humanists and social scientists engage in questions of power and equity in our culture and society. Healthcare scholars in data justice strive for accurate and fair collection and use of data for healthcare decision making. Mathematicians and statisticians look to eliminate bias in models and processing languages to ensure the fundamental tools of data science are leading to fair use and outcomes. Keywords from these fields often include: ethical AI (artificial intelligence), responsible AI, data & society, public-interest tech, algorithmic fairness, digital justice, algorithmic accountability, algorithmic justice, data justice, data cultures, information studies, critical data and critical science studies, design justice, tech worker justice, content moderation, surveillance and cyber civil rights. Fields of study for these issues are often found in departments of information studies or I-Schools, media studies, communications, journalism, design media arts, digital sociology, law, political science, African American studies, Native American Studies, gender studies, anthropology, urban planning, experimental/digital humanities, computer science and labor studies to name just a few. Some of the leading researchers in the world working on these issues are on faculty at UCLA.