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Politics, Policy and Privatisation in the Everyday Experience of Big Data in the NHS

Big Data? Qualitative Approaches to Digital Research

ISBN: 978-1-78441-051-3, eISBN: 978-1-78441-050-6

ISSN: 1042-3192

Publication date: 3 November 2014

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Citation

Goffey, A., Pettinger, L. and Speed, E. (2014), "Politics, Policy and Privatisation in the Everyday Experience of Big Data in the NHS", Big Data? Qualitative Approaches to Digital Research (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1042-319220140000013003

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited