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This thematic workshop and special issue explores the platformization of cultural production against the backdrop of wider transformations in the technologies, cultures, and political economies of digital media. Platformization describes the process by which major tech companies—GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) in the West, and the so-called “three kingdoms” of the Chinese internet (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) in Asia—are reconfiguring the production, distribution, and monetization of cultural products and services. The logic of platformization is impacting traditional cultural industries (e.g., music, news, museums, games, and fashion), as well as emergent digital sectors and communities of practice, such as livestreaming, podcasting, and “Instagramming.” Accordingly, new industrial formations and partnerships are constantly being wrought; for example, newspapers increasingly host their content on Facebook, and game developers offer their products in app stores operated by Apple and Google.

Detail Summary
Start date 7 October 2018
End date 8 October 2018
Time 00:00

Given the acceleration and intensification of digital platforms in the cultural circuit, there is a pressing need to interrogate the stakes of platformization for content producers and for the cultural commodities they circulate among digitally networked audiences. The workshop features theoretical and empirical contributions addressing platform power and political economies vis-à-vis cultural production. Owing to the relative recency of research on platformization, this topic warrants an interdisciplinary focus including scholarship from such fields as media and communication studies, platform studies, software studies, political economy of communication, (media) production studies, and business studies. Platformization exacts widely variable costs across different spheres of life, and regional and sectoral boundaries. Studying this complex development, scholars contribute papers which advance our understanding of how the platformization of particular sectors and practices takes shape within specific geo-national contexts, as well as how this involves new modes of content moderation and algorithmic curation, evolving forms of labour exploitation, and app-based systems of distribution and monetization.


Brooke Erin Duffy, Cornell University
David Nieborg, University of Toronto
Thomas Poell, University of Amsterdam


Sponsored by:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS)
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
Dep. Arts, Culture & Media at University of Toronto Scarborough
Office of the Vice-Principal Research (OVPR) at University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)