2024 SEA/SAW Spring Meeting
Apr 18, 2024 @ 8:00 am - Apr 20, 2024 @ 5:00 pm EDT
Work and the Data Economy
A joint meeting of the Society for Economic Anthropology and the Society for the Anthropology of Work
The production, distribution, and consumption of digital data has become an important domain of economic activity. Data is said to upend conventional economic thinking, as a resource that can be transported at negligible cost and used without being depleted. Yet the enactment of the data economy depends on more and less familiar forms of human labor, from the waged work of analysts, modelers, and technicians to the uncompensated and often nonconsensual generation of trace data in everyday life. Sensor networks gathering real-time data have permeated industries from agriculture to shipping, while the digitization of museum holdings and the massification of genetic sequencing have given rise to new value chains that cut across boundaries of public and private. The consequences of these developments are still coming into focus, promising greater efficiency and access but also compounding issues of equity and control. How, we might ask, does data capitalism stand to reinforce inequality along lines of race, gender, class, and disability?