Researching Public Trust in Datafication: Reflections on the Deliberative Citizen Jury as Method

Helen Kennedy*, Robin Steedman, Rhianne Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

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How can we engage the public in issues relating to data, when these matters are often complex, opaque and difficult to understand? Answers to this question are urgently needed, given mounting concern about the potential negative consequences of data power and desire for data justice. The citizen jury offers one solution. Citizen juries bring diverse citizens together to debate a complex issue of social importance and make a policy recommendation. In this chapter, we reflect on a citizen jury experiment where participants discussed their criteria for the design of ethical, just and trustworthy data-driven systems. We argue that the synthesis of participants’ opinions resulting from the deliberative approach is a unique strength of the citizen jury as a method for researching public perceptions of data power. However, we also argue that experts, brought in to citizen juries to share their expertise and inform deliberation, shape the process and the conclusions that citizen jurors draw. In the social sciences, it is widely acknowledged that methods shape empirical research findings, yet this is rarely discussed in data studies, in research into public perceptions of datafication or in relation to citizen juries. We call for greater critical thinking about methods in the field of critical data studies, and in so doing, we contribute to the advancement of the field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Perspectives in Critical Data Studies : The Ambivalences of Data Power
EditorsAndreas Hepp, Juliane Jarke, Leif Kramp
Number of pages24
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9783030961794
ISBN (Electronic)9783030961800
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesTransforming Communication: Studies in Cross-Media Research


  • Citizen juries
  • Trust
  • Public perceptions
  • Methods

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