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Societal Self-observation in the Time of Datafication: Interfunctional Analysis of the Chilean Open Data Web Portal

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Datafication, the technological development that emerged out of computerization and global interconnectedness, has spawned new forms of societal self-observations. In the present article I turn to the example of Open Data web portals--specialized websites that make large amounts of governmental datasets publicly available--to show how they relate to the status quo of social research on functional differentiation. For my analysis of the Chilean Portal de Datos P├║blicos I developed a method to link metadata categories from the web portal to a hard-core list of ten function systems. My results confirm literature, which finds economized or politicized forms of societal self-description. Moreover the results are in line with studies that show the vanishing role of religion. Interestingly, my study finds health to be of high importance--I might even speak of a healthized self-observation---which I argue is at odds with a negligible representation of the function system sport within the self-observation. For future interfunctional social research in the time of datafication, I recommend sharpening the empirical approach by exploring emerging text-as-data methods.

Keywords: Datafication; Open Data; functional differentiation; interfunctional analysis; self-observation; social systems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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