The tools and technologies associated with the big data approach to different modes of research often raise ethical questions, and the response to these are often couched in terms of potential benefits and harms. This presentation shifts attention to another level: that is, the values in terms of which benefits and harms are perceived. Taking examples from data base architecture, modelling and network analysis, we argue that the big data approach as a techno-scientific constellation acts to intervene in rather than merely to preserve the sphere of social values. A political and ethical engagement with the big data approach for social science needs to start with awareness of its value-interventive potential from the point of the technology development and implementation.
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