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Datafied child welfare services: unpacking politics, economics and power

Redden, Joanna, Dencik, Lina and Warne, Harry 2020. Datafied child welfare services: unpacking politics, economics and power. Policy Studies 41 (5) , pp. 507-526. 10.1080/01442872.2020.1724928
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This article analyses three distinct child welfare data systems in England. We focus on child welfare as a contested area in public services where data systems are being used to inform decision-making and transforming governance. We advance the use of “data assemblage” as an analytical framework to detail how key political and economic factors influence the development of these data systems. We provide an empirically grounded demonstration of why child welfare data systems must not be considered neutral decision aid tools. We identify how systems of thought, ownership structures, policy agendas, organizational practices, and legal frameworks influence these data systems. We find similarities in the move toward greater sharing of sensitive data, but differences in attitudes toward public-private partnerships, rights and uses of prediction. There is a worrying lack of information available about the impacts of these systems on those who are subject to them – particularly in relation to predictive data systems. We argue for policy debates to go beyond technical fixes and privacy concerns to engage with fundamental questions about the power dynamics and rights issues linked to the expansion of data sharing in this sector as well as whether predictive data systems should be used at all.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0144-2872
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 January 2020
Date of Acceptance: 27 January 2020
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2021 02:21

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