Big Data as Governmentality in International Development: Digital Traces, Algorithms, and Altered Visibilities

Mikkel Flyverbom, Anders Koed Madsen, Andreas Rasche

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Statistics have long shaped the field of visibility for the governance of development projects. The introduction of big data has altered the field of visibility. Employing Dean's “analytics of government” framework, we analyze two cases—malaria tracking in Kenya and monitoring of food prices in Indonesia. Our analysis shows that big data introduces a bias toward particular types of visualizations. What problems are being made visible through big data depends to some degree on how the underlying data is visualized and who is captured in the visualizations. It is also influenced by technical factors such as distance between mobile phone towers and the truth claims that gain legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Information Society
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Big data
  • International development
  • Governmentality
  • Knowledge production
  • Algorithms

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