Representation

Inequalities become known through patterns of representation. They are translated into shared knowledge, narratives, models, categories, measurements and other forms of data, often through institutional gathering and crafting of information but also through political, collective action. Thus, practices of collecting and comparing information and evidence about social differences (wealth, income, education, health, life-style, consumption) and the ability of injured groups of people to claim public attention and a political mandate – are the heart of inequalities. The self-reflexivity of society depends on its capacity to translate different kinds of lived inequalities into publicly discussed evidence and argumentation. This is specifically a challenge for the (methodological and theoretical reflexivity of) academic community whose task it is to make sense of inequalities but also to sustain a critical discourse and sensitivity about the categories of inequality and their uses, both by public and market actors. New forms of collecting data and evidence about groups and individuals help address inequalities that are judged as socially illegitimate. At the same time, increasingly effective collection and combination of data may well inform innovations that escalate inequality.

How are lived inequalities translated to data, evidence, knowledge and other forms of (political and public) representation? How is this knowledge interpreted into planning and policy consultation (societal impact)? How are increasingly effective forms of data-gathering used in policy, governance, surveillance and marketing – in ways that shape the lived experiences and self-recognition of people?