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The Data Gaze

The Data Gaze
Capitalism, Power and Perception

November 2018 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
A significant new way of understanding contemporary capitalism is to understand the intensification and spread of data analytics. This text is about the powerful promises and visions that have led to the expansion of data analytics and data-led forms of social ordering.

 It is centrally concerned with examining the types of knowledge associated with data analytics and shows that how these analytics are envisioned is central to the emergence and prominence of data at various scales of social life.  This text aims to understand the powerful role of the data analytics industry and how this industry facilitates the spread and intensification of data-led processes. As such, The Data Gaze is concerned with understanding how data-led, data-driven and data-reliant forms of capitalism pervade organisational and everyday life.

Using a clear theoretical approach derived from Foucault and critical data studies the text develops the concept of the data gaze and shows how powerful and persuasive it is. It’s an essential and subversive guide to data analytics and data capitalism.  
Chapter 1: Introducing the data gaze
Chapter 2: Envisioning the power of data analytics: the data imaginary
Chapter 3: Perpetuating and deploying a rationality of speed: the temporality of the data gaze
Chapter 4: The infrastructural dimensions of the data gaze: the analytical spaces of the codified clinic
Chapter 5: The diagnostic eye: the professional gaze of the data analyst and the data engineer
Chapter 6: Conclusion

With characteristic eye for detail, Beer examines what we often overlook when talking about data: the values and ideals embedded in it by the industries that collect and process it, and how this affects our lives.

Mark D White
College of Staten Island/CUNY

David Beer's The Data Gaze is a remarkable achievement. The demand for data is today's ultimate appeal to truth, objectivity, and efficacy. Beer takes a step back, and questions how the appeal to data has gained such social currency. In meticulous and searching work, combining close attention to corporate data practices and theoretical rigor, he exposes the stakes of the data gaze's demand for a total description of our actions, aspirations, potential, and politics. Before succumbing to the demand for ever more quantification and monitoring, policymakers and scholars would do well to read this insightful and important book.

Frank Pasquale
University of Maryland

The Data Gaze is a welcome diagnostic for the data and data analytics central to the functioning of contemporary capitalism and capitalist society. Finding inspiration in Foucault’s ‘clinical gaze’ Beer critically evaluates the visions, infrastructures and practices that facilitate what is said with data. It will be a vital resource for anyone who seeks to question the power to speak with our data.”

Mark Coté
King's College London

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