Civic Participation in the Datafied Society| Citizen Data Audits in the Contemporary Sensorium

Katherine M. A. Reilly, Esteban Morales


Citizen data audits build on Jesús Martín-Barbero’s (JMB) theorization of the contemporary sensorium to foreground citizens’ situated, affective responses to datafication. We argue that social audits are necessarily historically situated, highlighting how the processes by which we evaluate reality or think about data power are inevitability contextually bound. With this in mind, JMB’s maps of contemporary mediations ground local experiences with datafication; however, we argue that his work can be complemented by more nuanced appreciations of affect theory. Based on this, we discuss three citizen-centered data audits techniques that can be used to encourage personal assessments of engagements with the contemporary sensorium. Overall, this work offers individuals and communities methods to analyze, reflect on, and evaluate their unique, contextual engagements with datafied and algorithmic societies. These methods offer people pathways to visualize and redraw the map of the systems they inhabit—and possibly even to reposition themselves within it.


citizen-centered data audits, datafication, sensorium, technicities, sensorialities, affect

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