Data justice for development: what would it mean?

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This paper looks at the intersection of two growing trends in international development – use of justice in development theory, and use of data in development practice – and asks what data-justice-for-development
would mean. The rationale for this can be the presence of current data injustices in developing countries, and different framings for data injustice point to three different mainstream perspectives on data justice: instrumental,
procedural, and distributive/rights-based. These three perspectives are explained but they are also subject to small data, sustainability, Senian, and structural critiques. A full understanding of the mainstream perspectives and conceptualisation of the critiques is largely the task of a future research agenda. However, the paper does particularly argue that a structural approach should be the foundation for understanding data justice in a development context. It offers three potential ways to conceptualise structural data justice – through the ideas of Iris Marion Young, of political economy, and of the capability approach – and ends with some thoughts on the practical agenda when seeking to deliver structural data justice for development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
JournalInformation Development
Issue number1
Early online date9 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • data justice, data rights, capability approach, political economy, developing countries, structural data justice

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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