The Big Data Challenge. From Big Data in Politics to the Politics of Big Data

A special issue for PArtecipazione e COnflitto (PACO)
Guest Editors: Alice Mattoni and Elena Pavan
Deadline: 10th March 2018


  • Call for Full Articles
This special issue aims to open a much-needed space for developing a critical and informed
reflection on the multi-faceted nexus between Big Data and the study of political participation
dynamics. It understands Big Data not solely in terms of large-scale datasets of textual or
digital data that require us to tune our research practices. More radically, it starts from a
conceptualization of Big Data as a complex set of cultural, political and scientific knowledge
practices that challenge the traditional modes in which research questions are posed and
framed, analyses are performed, as well as the ways in which results are communicated to the
public and thus affect public discourse and debates. It also invites us to orient our attention
towards emergent forms of activism reclaiming citizens’ agency towards the production,
management and exploitation of (big) data, including – such as data activism, statactivism,
data justice struggles, open data movements.
Consistently, the special issue aims to provide a solid contribution towards the investigation
of two interrelated aspects. On the one hand, it will engage with how Big Data are leveraging
our understanding of participation and contentious dynamics within complex societies
providing new methodological and informational resources to investigate structures, contents
and mechanisms of citizens’ public engagement. On the other, it will contribute to develop a
specific take on how Big Data become a contested research and political terrain characterized
by strong power dynamics between private and public actors, and entwining with governance
processes at all levels – from the national to the transnational one.
Against this background, this special issue welcomes *full articles submissions* employing
different theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches on Big Data, adopting a
single-case or a comparative multinational and/or multiplatform perspective and exploring
one or more of the following thematic areas:
  • Big Data, public opinion and institutional politics (party dynamics, political
    communications, etc.)
  • Big Data and the study of contemporary forms of collective action and
    unconventional political participation (social movements, digital activism, etc.)
  • Reflections on the epistemological and methodological implications and possibilities
    brought by Big Data in the study of political participation and contentious dynamics
  • Deconstructing and approaching critically datafication
  • Intersections between Big Data and governance processes.


  • Timeline:

Submission of Full Articles: 10th March 2018

Provision of peer reviewed feedback: 15st May 2018

Submission of revised accepted articles: 19th  June  2018

Publication of the Special issue: 15th July  2018


Articles should be no longer than 10,000 words, including notes and references.
A maximum of 10 articles will be published.
Please refer to the editorial guidelines available at
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