Transformations of trust in society: A systematic review of how access to big data in energy systems challenges Scandinavian culture

Jaqueline Godoy, Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Kristian Høyer Toft

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the era of information technology and big data, the extraction, commodification, and control of personal information is redefining how people relate and interact. However, the challenges that big data collection and analytics can introduce in trust-based societies, like those of Scandinavia, are not yet understood. For instance, in the energy sector, data generated through smart appliances, like smart metering devices, can have collateral implications for the end-users. In this paper, we present a systematic review of scientific articles indexed in Scopus to identify possible relationships between the practices of collecting, processing, analysing, and using people's data and people's responses to such practices. We contextualise this by looking at research about Scandinavian societies and link this to the academic literature on big data and trust, big data and smart meters, data ethics and the energy sector, surveillance capitalism, and subsequently performing a reflexive thematic analysis. We broadly situate our understanding of culture in this context on the interactions between cognitive norms, material culture, and energy practices. Our analysis identified a number of articles discussing problems and solutions to do with the practices of surveillance capitalism. We also found that research addresses these challenges in different ways. While some research focuses on technological amendments to address users’ privacy protection, only few examine the fundamental ethical questions that discuss how big data practices may change societies and increase their vulnerability. The literature suggests that even in highly trusting societies, like the ones found in Scandinavian countries, trust can be undermined and weakened.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy and AI
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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