Pre-problem families: predictive analytics and the future as the present

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Rosalind Edwards University of Southampton, UK

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Val Gillies University of Westminster, UK

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Sarah Gorin University of Warwick, UK

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Hélène Vannier-Ducasse University of Southampton, UK

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Predictive analytics is seen as a way of identifying the risk of future problems in families. Integral to such automated predictive analysis is a shift in time frames that redraws the relationship between families and the state, to potentially intervene on an anticipatory basis of ‘what hasn’t happened but might’. In the process, human subjects are reformulated as disembodied objects of data-driven futures. The article explains this process and fills a significant gap in knowledge about parents’ views of this development. We draw on group and individual discussions with parents across Great Britain to consider their understanding of predictive analytics and how comfortable they are with it. Parents’ concerns focused on inaccuracies in the data used for prediction, the unfair risk of false positives and false negatives, the deterministic implications of the past predicting the future, and the disturbing potential of being positioned in what was a pre-problem space. We conclude with policy implications.

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Rosalind Edwards University of Southampton, UK

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Val Gillies University of Westminster, UK

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Sarah Gorin University of Warwick, UK

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Hélène Vannier-Ducasse University of Southampton, UK

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