The Feeling of Numbers: emotions in everyday engagements with data and their visualisation

Helen Kennedy, Rosemary Lucy Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


This article highlights the role that emotions play in engagements with data and their visualisation. To date, the relationship between data and emotions has rarely been noted, in part because data studies have not attended to everyday engagements with data. We draw on an empirical study to show a wide range of emotional engagements with diverse aspects of data and their visualisation, and so demonstrate the importance of emotions as vital components of making sense of data. We nuance the argument that regimes of datafication, in which numbers, metrics and statistics dominate, are characterised by a renewed faith in objectivity and rationality, arguing that in datafied times, it is not only numbers but also the feeling of numbers that is important. We build on the sociology of (a) emotions and (b) the everyday to do this, and in so doing, we contribute to the development of a sociology of data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-848
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Early online date14 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


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