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Data activism: The politics of big data according to civil society

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "DATACTIVE" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: SPUI 21
postcode: 1012WX

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Netherlands [NL]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙498˙352 €
 EC max contribution 1˙498˙352 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-09-01   to  2020-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITEIT VAN AMSTERDAM NL (AMSTERDAM) coordinator 1˙498˙352.00


 Project objective

With the diffusion of ‘big data’, citizens become increasingly aware of the critical role of information in modern societies. This awareness gives rise to new social practices rooted in technology and data, which I term ‘data activism’. While activists see massive data collection by governments and businesses as a challenge to civil rights, big data also offer new opportunities for collective action. This research will investigate civil society’s engagement with massive data collection by addressing three research questions: How do citizens resist massive data collection by means of technical fixes (re-active data activism)? How do social movements use big data to foster social change (pro-active data activism)? How does data activism affect the dynamics of transnational civil society, and transnational advocacy networks in particular? The project will develop a multidisciplinary conceptual framework integrating social movement studies, science and technology studies and international relations. It will analyze organizational forms, action repertoires and the enabling role of software in data activism, and will identify emerging structures and strategies of transnational advocacy networks. Data will be collected via qualitative (interviews with activists, field observations, infrastructure ethnography on software platforms) and computational methods (such as data mining in online repositories). ‬ ‪This research is groundbreaking in four ways: 1) by analyzing civil society’s engagement with massive data collection, it evaluates risks and promises of big data; 2) by addressing an uncharted but rapidly growing field of human action, it sets the basis for understanding future civic engagement; 3) by integrating adjacent disciplines that seldom interact, it magnifies their ability to understand the interplay between society, information, technology and power; 4) by developing dedicated data collection tools, it adds to methodological innovation in big-data analytics.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2020 Guillén Torres
Institutional resistance to transparency: the quest for Public Sector Information in Mexico
published pages: , ISSN: 1654-7063, DOI:
Journal of Resistance Studies 5(2) 2020-02-28
2020 Stefania Milan Sérgio Barbosa
Enter the WhatsApper: Reinventing digital activism at the time of chat apps
published pages: , ISSN: 1396-0466, DOI: 10.5210/fm.v25i1.10414
First Monday 25(1) 2020-02-06
2019 Stefania Milan and Emiliano Treré (eds), with Anna Berti Suman, Kersti Ruth Wissenbach, Guillén Torres, Niels ten Oever, Zhen Ye
Big Data from the South: Towards a Research Agenda
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
DATACTIVE Working Paper Series 04/2019 2020-01-14
2019 Davide Beraldo, Stefania Milan
From data politics to the contentious politics of data
published pages: 205395171988596, ISSN: 2053-9517, DOI: 10.1177/2053951719885967
Big Data & Society 6/2 2019-11-22
2019 Stefania Milan
Acting on data(fication)
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
Citizen Media and Practice: Currents, Connections, Challenges 2019-11-07
2019 Leonie Maria Tanczer, Ronald J Deibert, Didier Bigo, M I Franklin, Lucas Melgaço, David Lyon, Becky Kazansky, Stefania Milan
Online Surveillance, Censorship, and Encryption in Academia
published pages: , ISSN: 1528-3577, DOI: 10.1093/isp/ekz016
International Studies Perspectives 2019-10-15
2019 Sérgio Barbosa, Stefania Milan
Do Not Harm in Private Chat Apps: Ethical Issues for Research on and with WhatsApp
published pages: 49-65, ISSN: 1744-6716, DOI: 10.16997/wpcc.313
Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 14/1 2019-08-29
2019 Giuseppina Pellegrino, Johan Söderberg, Stefania Milan
Datafication from Below: Epistemology, Ambivalences, Challenges
published pages: 89-113, ISSN: 2038-3460, DOI:
Tecnoscienza: Italian Journal of Science and Technology Studies 10(1) 2019-08-29
2019 Guillén Torres
Auditing the State: Everyday Forms of Institutional Resistance in the Mexican Freedom of Information Process
published pages: , ISSN: 2666-0733, DOI:
DATACTIVE Working Paper Series 1/2019 2019-08-29
2017 Stefania Milan, Emiliano Trere
Big Data from the South: The Beginning of a Conversation We Must Have
published pages: , ISSN: 1556-5068, DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3056958
SSRN Electronic Journal 2019-06-07
2019 Stefania Milan, Claudio Agosti
Personalisation algorithms and elections: breaking free of the filter bubble
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
Internet Policy Review 2019-06-07
2019 Stefania Milan, Emiliano Treré
Big Data from the South(s): Beyond Data Universalism
published pages: 319-335, ISSN: 1527-4764, DOI: 10.1177/1527476419837739
Television & New Media 20/4 2019-06-07
2019 Monika Zalnieriute, Stefania Milan
Internet Architecture and Human Rights: Beyond the Human Rights Gap
published pages: 6-15, ISSN: 1944-2866, DOI: 10.1002/poi3.200
Policy & Internet 11/1 2019-06-07
2016 Stefania Milan, Lonneke van der Velden
The Alternative Epistemologies of Data Activism
published pages: 57-74, ISSN: 2364-2122, DOI: 10.14361/dcs-2016-0205
Digital Culture & Society 2/2 2019-05-29
2018 DATACTIVE team
Report: Data for the Social Good
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
Report from the workshop \'Data for the Social Good\', November 16-17, 2017 22 January 2018 2019-05-29
2018 Stefania Milan
Infrastrutture antagoniste e auto-organizzazione mediatica
published pages: , ISSN: 1723-0020, DOI:
Zapruder: Rivista di storia della conflittualità sociale 45 2019-05-29
2018 Stefania Milan, Lonneke van der Velden
Reversing Data Politics: An Introduction to the Special Issue
published pages: , ISSN: 1875-7103, DOI:
Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy 1/2018 2019-05-29
2015 Becky Kazansky
FCJ-195 Privacy, Responsibility, and Human Rights Activism
published pages: 190-208, ISSN: 1449-1443, DOI: 10.15307/fcj.26.195.2015
The Fibreculture Journal 26 2019-05-29
2015 Stefania Milan, Miren Gutiérrez
Citizens’ Media Meets Big Data: The Emergence of Data Activism
published pages: 120-133, ISSN: 1692-5688, DOI:
Mediaciones 14: Enero-Junio 2019-05-29
2018 Jonathan Gray
Three aspects of data worlds
published pages: , ISSN: 1875-7103, DOI:
Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy 1/2018 2019-05-29
2015 Stefania Milan, Miren Gutiérrez
Medios ciudadanos y big data: La emergencia del activismo de datos
published pages: 10-26, ISSN: 1692-5688, DOI:
Mediaciones 14: Enero-Junio 2019-05-29
2016 Stefania Milan, Niels ten Oever
Coding and encoding rights in internet infrastructure
published pages: , ISSN: 2197-6775, DOI: 10.14763/2017.1.442
Internet Policy Review 6(1) 2019-05-29
2018 Niels ten Oever, Davide Beraldo
Routes to rights: internet architecture and values in times of ossification and commercialization
published pages: 28-31, ISSN: 1528-4972, DOI: 10.1145/3220561
XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students 24/4 2019-05-29
2018 Stefania Milan
Autonomous infrastructure for a suckless internet
published pages: 20-23, ISSN: 1528-4972, DOI: 10.1145/3220877
XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students 24/4 2019-05-29
2018 Stefania Milan
Political Agency, Digital Traces, and Bottom-Up Data Practices
published pages: 507–527, ISSN: 1932-8036, DOI:
International Journal of Communication 12 2019-05-29
2017 Stefania Milan and Emiliano Treré
Big Data from the South: The beginning of a conversation we must have
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
DATACTIVE blog October 16 2019-05-29
2015 Theresa Zügar, Stefania Milan, Leonie Maria Tanczer
FCJ-192 Sand in the Information Society Machine: How Digital Technologies Change and Challenge the Paradigms of Civil Disobedience
published pages: 109-136, ISSN: 1449-1443, DOI: 10.15307/fcj.26.192.2015
The Fibreculture Journal 26 2019-05-29
2016 Stefania Milan
Reduce, retract and redact. Stefania Milan on the socio-legal complexities of digital redemption and digital reinvention
published pages: 42, ISSN: , DOI:
Times Higher Education 11-17 August 2019-05-29
2018 Arne Hintz and Stefania Milan
“Through a Glass, Darkly”: Everyday Acts of Authoritarianism in the Liberal West
published pages: , ISSN: 1932-8036, DOI:
International Journal of Communication 12 2019-04-18
2019 Kersti Ruth Wissenbach
Accounting for power in transnational civic tech activism: A communication-based analytical framework for media practice
published pages: 174804851983277, ISSN: 1748-0485, DOI: 10.1177/1748048519832779
International Communication Gazette 2019-04-18
2018 Niels ten Oever
Productive Contestation, Civil Society, and Global Governance: Human Rights as a Boundary Object in ICANN
published pages: , ISSN: 1944-2866, DOI: 10.1002/poi3.172
Policy & Internet 2019-04-18
2019 Miren Gutiérrez, Stefania Milan
Playing with data and its consequences
published pages: , ISSN: 1396-0466, DOI: 10.5210/fm.v24i1.9554
First Monday 24/1 2019-02-28

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