Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

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Publication Source

International Journal of Communication



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This article addresses implications for democracy of two interconnected developments involving big data and the media. One is the targeting of consumers for advertising by marketers and the new data-capture industry that supports them. The other involves the transformation of advertisers’ approach to subsidizing media content production. We describe these developments and consider their consequences for democratic life, drawing on classical and recent democratic theory (Paine, Dahl, Mouffe, Rosanvallon). We conclude that big data’s embedding in personalized marketing and content production threatens the ecology of connections that link citizens and groups via information, argumentation, empathy, and celebration as members of a shared social and civic space. Unless challenged, these developments risk eliminating the connective media necessary for an effective democracy.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Copyright © 2014 (Nick Couldry & Joseph Turow). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial/ No Derivatives (by-nc-nd). Available at


big data


Date Posted: 29 June 2015

This document has been peer reviewed.