On 30 August at 16:00 Tayfun Kasapoglu will defend his doctoral thesis “Algorithmic Imaginaries of Syrian Refugees: Exploring Hierarchical Data Relations from the Perspective of Refugees” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosphy (in Sociology).
Associate Professor Anu Masso, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Tartu
Professor Veronika Kalmus, University of Tartu
Associate Professor Minna Ruckenstein, University of Helsinki (Finland)
Diverse aspects of life are becoming increasingly engaged with datafication creating both advantages and risks for society and social groups. The ability to collect, store, and analyze the data gives certain groups and institutions the power to provide more effective services and make decisions about other people. The thesis “Algorithmic Imaginaries of Syrian Refugees: Exploring Hierarchical Data Relations from the Perspective of Refugees” aims at exploring both the refugees’ perspectives and their relation to aspects of datafication with a specific focus on algorithms. While refugees are subject to many datafied practices at the borders, both before and after the crossings, they have very little say in the processes where data is used to make decisions for and about them. Using interviews conducted with Syrian refugees in Estonia and Turkey and the texts narrated by Syrian refugees on a social media initiative, the thesis provides an account of refugee perspectives regarding the datafication process and especially the algorithms, their potential benefits, and drawbacks by focusing on agency, contexts, and securitization. Although algorithms have complex structures that raise questions about transparency and accountability, the refugees were able to reflect on algorithms with an emphasis on cultural factors and personal trajectories. The thesis underlines the importance of including the perspectives of refugees, their concerns, and priorities in the datafied solutions aimed for refugees to ensure fair and inclusive algorithmic governance.