Data Citizens and the Right to Data

computers wires connecting to boxes

This open seminar hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s CDCS Digital Social Science Cluster, features speaker Prof Jennifer Gabrys (University of Cambridge) presenting her work on citizen sensing and the data rights issues it raises.

Event description

Environmental sensors are meant to activate particular forms of data-oriented envi­ronmental citizenship. Plugging in a digital kit and join­ing a disparate community of users are the steps to be followed that in principle should mobilize environmental data and rights in the making. Yet rather than unfold a more straightforward form of political engagement, citizen sensing kits and the citizen data they generate can often given rise to even more complex struggles with urban environmental life.

This presentation will draw on material from the forthcoming book, Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle, to discuss how data citizens are constituted through practices of forming and making evidence, whether by generating their own data or compiling and analyzing diverse datasets—or both. It will consider how rights to data are expressed through uneven evidentiary techniques that constitute ongoing processes for materializing data citizenship as affective and collective infrastructures for engaging with and intervening in urban worlds.

Speaker Biography

Jennifer Gabrys is Chair in Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She leads the Planetary Praxis research group, and is Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, Smart Forests: Transforming Environments into Social-Political Technologies. She also leads Citizen Sense and AirKit, which are participatory and practice-based research projects funded by the ERC that address air pollution and citizen engagement. Her recent publications include How to Do Things with Sensors (2019), and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (2016). Her newest book, Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle, is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press. Her work can be found at and

First broadcast on 24 November, 2021

Chaired by Morgan Currie, Co-Lead of the CDCS Digital Social Science Cluster

Click here to view ‘Data citizens and the Right to Data’ directly on Media Hopper Create 



Header Image: Screenshot from the open lecture