Call For Papers: Reimagining Platforms

Reimagining Platforms is a new collaboration between The University of Edinburgh and University of Toronto. It is a one-day symposium taking place at the University of Edinburgh on October 31, 2022 that brings academics and community and local partners together to develop methods and concepts to analyze the different futures and possibilities of platforms and platform economies. To this end, we invite papers and presentations that reimagine platforms in alignment with three specific themes: 1) researching proprietary digital platforms; 2) governing digital platforms; and 3) new labour futures.

Researching Proprietary Platforms: Access, Methods, and Insight: The academic subfield of platform studies explores how platforms and their attendant processes reshape consumption, production, and the distribution of cultural artifacts. Platforms are conceptualised as forms of infrastructure and public service media, as well as being deeply powerful and complex political actors. However, due to the proprietary nature of platforms and the corporations responsible for them, gaining research access to platform infrastructures, data, employees, and processes can be very challenging– if not impossible. In this section, we invite contributions that offer new methods for examining platforms and that are capable of addressing questions that are underrepresented in platform studies. How do (or can) we study platforms given the access constraints that researchers face?

Governing Digital Platforms: Algorithms, Data, and Rights: Research of digital platforms shapes a vital critique of the platform as a necessary or needed social actor or assemblage. Scholars and researchers argue that platforms exploit our time and attention, that they gather novel and valuable data from users’ everyday behaviors, capture network effects and essentially dominate or attempt to monopolise markets. Others have argued that platforms function as data science companies, capturing and aggregating data at scale, while resisting regulations from the state (van Doorn and Badger 2020). This tendency is visible, for instance, in platforms for on-demand work, which have become a deeply contested terrain of employment and privacy rights (Gregory 2020). In this section, we are looking for contributions that address the theme of governance of and by platforms from different perspectives. How do (or can) different governance models – proposed by private entities, civil society and the state – shape the future of platforms?

New Labour Futures: Fair Work and Building With Workers: Sorely missing from any discussion about the future of platforms is local voice. While platforms seemingly transcend state boundaries and work across and through global markets, platforms nonetheless shape and mediate local environments, particularly urban space, particularly for workers. These voices, however, are not reflected in the debates about the future of platforms. In this section, we are interested in presentations that address how labor practices can change platforms. What does fair work and building with workers mean in the context of platform economy?

Keynote: TBD

This event will take place in-person at the University of Edinburgh on Monday, October 31, 2022. All symposium presenters will be required to book their own travel and accommodation for the event. Papers presented in the symposium will form a backbone for a proposal for a journal special issue.

Please send a 250 word abstract to by July 8, 2022. Accepted papers to be notified by July 28, 2022.

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