Research questions and approaches

We frame datafied living in terms of communication – with digital systems, the self, and social relationships as manifest in communicative practices, and system-to-system at the backend of digital infrastructures.

Research questions

We address four core research questions:

  1. How do people experience, manage and communicate about the data that they produce by self-tracking and other digital media uses in personal life, at work and in the context of the welfare state?
  2. How, and to what extent, does personal experience of self-tracking data enable users to critically reflect and act on the wider implications of datafication, e.g. their personal privacy online?
  3. How do person-based tracking infrastructures combine disparate data flows to profile and address individual users as customers and citizens?
  4. What kinds of political responses are needed to support ethical uses of data across personal, work and institutional contexts?

Methods and empirical work

We combine a mix of classic and digital methods to detail the intertwining of people’s communicative practices in digital infrastructures and the data-driven operations organisations and welfare institutions perform based on personal data.

Uses and experiences

We study “datafication from below” across key contexts of everyday life: personal life, working life, and interactions with societal institutions, by following a purposive sample of Danes from all walks of life for one year and in the context of their specific personal, work and institutional identities. We combine smartphone logdata, media diaries and repeated interviews to understand how self-tracking and other forms of person-based tracking is used by individuals in pursuing their daily habits and duties, and rendered meaningful in communication with the self and with others.


We elucidate infrastructures that feed user data into commercial and public domains through studying web and mobile tracking infrastructures’ uses of third-party services (i.e. cookies), algorithms etc. in running websites and apps, and data work in prototypical examples of public and private organizations that people as citizens and consumers interface with throughout daily life: e.g., daycare, education, healthcare, finance and entertainment. Infrastructural analysis will illuminate the nuts and bolts of person-based tracking, system-to-system, to account for how digital businesses operate with and through personal tracking data, what are the stable and variable features of such operations for commercial profiling and targeting of customers, provision of welfare to citizens, business intelligence enhancement etc. in data-intensive communication systems.