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Politics, policy and privatisation in the everyday experience of big data in the NHS

Goffey, A and Pettinger, L and Speed, E (2014) 'Politics, policy and privatisation in the everyday experience of big data in the NHS.' Studies in Qualitative Methodology, 13. 31 - 50. ISSN 1042-3192

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Copyright © 2014 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved. Purpose - This chapter explains how fundamental organisational change in the UK National Health Service (NHS) is being effected by new practices of digitised information gathering and use. It analyses the taken-for-granted IT infrastructures that lie behind digitisation and considers the relationship between digitisation and big data.Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative research methods including discourse analysis, ethnography of software and key informant interviews were used. Actor-network theories, as developed by Science and technology Studies (STS) researchers were used to inform the research questions, data gathering and analysis. The chapter focuses on the aftermath of legislation to change the organisation of the NHS.Findings - The chapter shows the benefits of qualitative research into specific manifestations information technology. It explains how apparently 'objective' and 'neutral' quantitative data gathering and analysis is mediated by complex software practices. It considers the political power of claims that data is neutral.Originality/value - The chapter provides insight into a specific case of healthcare data and. It makes explicit the role of politics and the State in digitisation and shows how STS approaches can be used to understand political and technological practice.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
Depositing User: Ewen Speed
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2014 10:21
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2019 11:15

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