Understanding Well-being Data

Chapter 1 Introducing well-being data

1 Introducing well-being data

Well-being data are often our data, in that they are personal data about us—and their collection requires our time and consideration. We are increasingly aware of data’s role in our everyday lives, yet we lack a shared understanding of data and well-being and how they are linked. This chapter illustrates that data don’t just represent society, but they actually change society, culture and our values in ways we cannot see. This chapter discusses who the book is for, what it is trying to do, how the book should be used, its structure and key arguments. Data collection and uses are in many ways more simple, and in other ways more complex than we imagine in our day to day lives. This chapter guides the reader on how this book can help them judge what well-being data mean for them.

1.1Introduction to Understanding Well-being Data

This book seeks to advance understanding of the role of well-being in social and cultural policy, politics and research. It does this by focussing on the ideas, concepts and uses of well-being, as well as differences in types of well-being data. It was written primarily to offer practitioners a view ‘under-the-bonnet’ of data collection, analyses and uses to see how […]

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1.2Who is this book for?

For people who work in social and cultural policy and charities, this book offers lots of context to the data they use every day and aims to help everyday usage of data in practice. It hopes to speak to people who think they can’t do numbers at all. This includes those who think they do not understand the numerical aspects […]

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1.3What is this book trying to do?

It’s just really hard when you’re bogged down in numbers and reports, and you’ve got a deadline looming, to be sure to know that the statistics you use are correct, or that you’re even reading a graph properly. Someone who uses data all the time said this to me a few years ago. This person’s confession in an interview chimed […]

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1.4Why well-being data?

Well-being data can be about individuals, such as Fitbit data, or population data, such as the census. They include health data and poverty data; information on how we feel, on how we live and how long we live. This book focusses on well-being data for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is easy to assume that well-being data are similar […]

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1.5How are data cultural?

Popular culture is constituted by data about popular culture. (Beer and Burrows 2013: 56) Data issues are bigger than well-being and bigger than social and cultural policy. As we have seen they affect much of how we experience society. In 2015, Helen Kennedy asked ‘is data culture?’1, ultimately answering yes. We interpret data through journalism and visualisations like graphs, which […]

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1.6How should I use this book?

The simple answer here is that, like with any book, you should use it how you want. What I wanted to say is that although there is a logical order to this book, which we go into next, not everyone will find all of it useful or interesting. So, as much as this book is about feeling confident in your […]

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1.7Why the book is written in this order?

This book is a game of two halves, with a post-match pint to digest what we have just watched: the performance of the players and those calls which are on the edge of the rules of the game. The first half is about how different kinds of well-being data (data about well-being) came about. It begins with the historical traditions […]

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Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence and indicate if changes were made. […]

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