The data economy: How technological change has altered the role of the citizen-consumer

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Citizenship and consumption have been linked for over a century, emphasizing the pivotal role played by the citizen-consumer in society as a whole, and the voting power of the consumer's money. In the modern, digitalized world of the data economy, citizen-consumers are being assigned new roles: active market party, content producer, distributor, and an important source of economic value formation. This article examines how the role of the citizen-consumer is transforming in the data economy, giving a simplified account of historical continuities and discontinuities. We concentrate on the commercial side of consumer citizenship, scrutinizing two periods in the history of technology: first, the 1930s–40s when the mobile citizen-consumer was invented, designed, and promoted by the US car industry; and second, the post-1990s when an even greater sense of mobility was introduced by cell phones and the Internet, drawing examples from outlying yet technologically advanced Finland. We close with a discussion of how the digital turn has given citizen-consumers new channels of operations, querying how technological change has influenced their everyday lives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101157
JournalTechnology in Society
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5202 Economic and Social History
  • 5141 Sociology

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