January 21st, 2016
Comparative Case Analysis of Population Data Infrastructure Projects initiated by State Powers, 1995-2015
Professor Muzammil Hussain will describe his new, 2-3 year project on ‘Bio-Social Data Innovation & Governance in Asia’ (Big-DIG). The Big-DIG project seeks to use qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to understand how IT infrastructure and big data mining strategies (e.g., bio-metrics and social credit systems, in India and China, respectively) are being developed and applied as governance and management tools by over 22 Asian countries with respect to their citizens.
State powers and private industries have historically, and symbiotically, implemented new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to advance their operational goals—primarily by improving their managerial efficiency and effectiveness. The industrial revolution of the early to mid 20th century has been described as a period when public and private institutions largely learned to ‘automate’ their operations, by developing technologies that more efficiently completed work previously done by human agents. The information revolution of the mid to late 20th century has been described as a period when a new generation of ICTs enabled widespread connectivity of individuals and societies at large. In turn, the data revolution of the early 21st century can be described as having further introduced opportunities for marrying device data with user networks—powered in large part by the expansion of the ‘internet of things.’ What do state powers hope to marshal from these big data infrastructures projects for their governance interests and goals? Where and when are private high-technology sectors being engaged in constructing and instrumentalizing these infrastructures as governance technologies? How might these developments restructure the evolving relationships between states and citizens, and society and public culture, especially in varying conditions of democratization and development? The project on Big Data Innovation + Governance (Big DIG) examines the public and private sector projects and associated platforms aiming to collect and organize population-level data about citizens and consumers.
About the Speaker:
Muzammil M. Hussain is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, and Faculty Associate in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, where he conducts research at the intersections of global communication and comparative politics. His published books include “Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring” (Oxford University Press, 2013), a cross-national comparative study of how digital media and information technologies have supported the opening-up of closed societies in the MENA, and “State Power 2.0: Authoritarian Entrenchment and Political Engagement Worldwide” (Ashgate Publishing, 2013), an international collection detailing how governments, both democracies and dictatorships, are working to close-down digital systems and environments around the world. He has authored numerous research articles, book chapters, and industry reports examining global ICT politics, innovation, and policy, including pieces in The Journal of Democracy, The Journal of International Affairs, The Brookings Institutions’ Issues in Technology and Innovation, The InterMedia Institute’s Development Research Series, International Studies Review, International Journal of Middle East Affairs, The Communication Review, Policy and Internet, and Journalism: Theory, Practice, and Criticism. At Michigan, Hussain teaches courses on research methods, digital politics, and global innovation, is finishing a manuscript on the digital activists, political technologists, and policy entrepreneurs designing internet freedom in the Global North, and beginning principal fieldwork on indigenous and frugal high-tech innovation cultures and industries in the Global South.