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Jill Robinson

Media, Birmingham City University

Thesis title:

Digital inequalities: a critical study of the uses of big data and data visualisation in addressing young people�s opportunities for contributing to cultural and social life.

My research is framed by the context of a collaborative PhD. I am working with a company which uses creativity to produce and communicate data about young people’s lives and enable them to contribute more effectively to cultural and social life.   

During my initial research, it became clear that the topic as stated needed to be more specifically defined in terms of the users of digital data and the nature of the data itself. Thus, it is now focused on public sector policymakers as users of data and big data has been joined by  small data as objects of study.  The site of my investigation is Birmingham, the largest UK city after London. It has a population of more than one million of which approx. 45% are under 30 (2017). 

My  main research question now is:  

In what ways does data-driven public sector policymaking contribute to the social and cultural inequalities of young people and how might young people be assisted to overcome them and redress the power imbalance between them and policymakers?

My subsidiary questions are as follows: 

      1. How might the collection, creative use and communication of alternative small data enable young people to challenge the normative data-influenced policy narratives of their everyday lives?   
      2. In what ways have youth organisations and young people themselves attempted to overcome their inequalities following the GFC of 2008?
      3. What can we learn from a study of Beatfreeks  work about alternative forms of engagement with young people and their potential  to address inequalities and rebalance the power relationship between young people and policymakers? 

Research Area

  • Media


Simon Guentner, Louis Henri Seukwa, Anne-Marie Gehrke, Jill Robinson (eds), :  Local Matters: How neighbourhoods and services affect social inclusion and exclusion of young epople in Euroepan cities. Peter Lang  2018

Jill Robinson, Ajmal Hussain, Helen Higson, Gemma Commane, Chapter: The Loft, Birmingham in Sirovatka and Spies: Effective Interventions for unemployed young people in Europe - Social Innovation or Paradigm Shift.  Routledge 2018


Paper presented at the IAMCR 2019 Conference in Madrid, Spain  July 7 – 11, 2019

Title: Disadvantaged by Data or not? Rebalancing the power dynamics between young people and public sector policymakers.

Paper presented at Conference: DATA POWER;global in/securities, University of Bremen, Germany Sept 12-13 September 2019 - 

Title: Data visualisation: reconfiguring power relations between Big Data-riven policymaking and marginalised young people in Panel: Data visualisation at the margins: Missing people, invisible people, imaginary people

Presentation in the Data and the digital economysession  at MECCSA 2020 Conference in Brighton, UK

Jan 8 - 10, 2020

Title: : The disruptive power of Small Data: challenging Big Data-influenced public sector narratives  around young people’s social and cultural inequalities



Public Engagement & Impact

Presentations to the young people who form the community with which my collaborative partner Beatfreeks engages.

Discussions with Councillors in Birmingham City Council about my research topic. 

Other Research Interests

The contribution of singing to  children's and young people's personal and social competences. 

The effects of singing on older people's health and well being 


Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)