Call for Participants: Workshop on Platform Ambivalence
Friday 21 October 2022 — Amsterdam, Netherlands
Apply by 5 September 2022
Hosted by: Eva Mos and Jelke Bosma, PhD candidates of the Platform Labor project at the University of Amsterdam
Often, we struggle with how to deal with platforms. For many of us, we can neither live with nor without them. To capture this simultaneous existence of conflicting ideas, motivations, and opinions about platforms, as well as the strategies to deal with them, this workshop focuses on the notion of platform ambivalence. In our own research and in the field of platform studies more broadly conceived we observe many and various instances of ambivalence, manifesting when individual users, institutions, organizations and policy makers engage with platforms. As with every major societal transformation, platformization encompasses contrasting dynamics and tendencies (see Bauman 1991) and raises the question: how do people and institutions navigate its opportunities and risks? This also means asking how we can understand ambivalence from the platform’s point of view: how do platforms benefit from, make use of, or struggle with it?
We suggest that what platforms are is not always a straightforward question and aim to develop an understanding of how platforms can be multiple things at the same time for different individuals or groups. In the literature, platform ambivalence has received some attention, focussing on users’ ambivalent appreciation of what platforms allow them to do (Chan 2018, Christin and Lewis 2021, Draper 2019). During this workshop, we aim to center ambivalence and discuss it as an inherent and core feature of platforms, highlighting platformization’s contested and conflicted nature in organizations and everyday life. In other words, we should not understand this variegated process in terms of either/or but rather and/and. By using ambivalence as an analytical means, we aim to ultimately arrive at a better understanding of what platforms can be and do.
For this workshop, we welcome contributions that address theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of platform ambivalence. Theoretical contributions might discuss how we can conceptualize platform ambivalence, as well as possible connections to broader academic debates on platformization. What does the concept of ambivalence do for an alternative understanding of platforms/platformization, and how does it add to already existing theories? What role do gender and race/ethnicity play in an understanding of platform ambivalence? Methodological contributions may concern possible methods and approaches to study platform ambivalence. What methods are best suited to find and disentangle varieties of ambivalence among different stakeholders? Empirical contributions could highlight specific instances, examples and forms of platform ambivalence, and unveil the mundane and everyday practices of negotiating these ambivalences. What are the instances in which diversely situated and positioned platform users do not fully agree, but nevertheless find a way to deal with platforms?
Potential topics and questions to be discussed may include:
- What kinds of ambivalence do platform users display, and what is the nature of this ambivalence?
- What does platform ambivalence do for platforms? How does it relate to platform business models? How do platforms opportunistically and strategically make use of, perhaps even benefit from, this ambivalence?
- How is the idea, as well as practice, of ambivalence informing an alternative understanding of platforms, making it both a more common ‘everyday’ phenomenon as well as a potential site of resistance?
- What are the incongruities that arise when platform users say one thing, but practice another?
- How do users and institutions find a way to deal with/live with platforms while being critical about its operations?
- How could we understand the boundary between ‘ambivalence’ and ‘resistance’? Does ambivalence consist of more than just a passive acceptance?
- Ambivalence bears consequences for methodologies: how do you examine these ambivalences? What are the appropriate methods and sites to study its occurrence?
Format The workshop will take place between 09.00 and 17.00 on October 21 2022, in-person in Amsterdam (exact location tbc). There is space for a maximum of 10 participants. We especially welcome applications from early career researchers (e.g. PhD, Postdoc). We encourage participants to submit work in progress that might still benefit from feedback from participants and discussants. Each participant will be assigned a 30 minute time slot with space for a 10-15 minute presentation, a short response by a discussant and further discussion among participants. We will invite several (senior) discussants to provide participants with additional feedback on their work. The Platform Labor research project provides catering during the workshop, hosts a workshop dinner on Friday evening, and funds accommodations in Amsterdam for 1 night.
Application To apply, please send an email to Eva Mos (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jelke Bosma (email@example.com). The deadline for application is Monday 5 September. Participants will be informed on the final decision on Monday 12 September. Please include the following information in your application:
- Name, email address, affiliation and discipline
- Title and abstract (max 300 words)
- A short description of your PhD project or current research (max 100 words)
- Selected applicants will be requested to submit an extended abstract (max 1500 words) before the workshop
- Please contact Eva Mos (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jelke Bosma (email@example.com) with any questions.
Bauman, Zygmunt (1991): Modernity and Ambivalence. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Chan, L. S. (2018). Ambivalence in networked intimacy: Observations from gay men using mobile dating apps. New Media & Society, 20(7), 2566–2581, DOI: 10.1177/1461444817727156
Christin, A., & Lewis, R. (2021). The Drama of Metrics: Status, Spectacle, and Resistance Among YouTube Drama Creators. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305121999660
Draper, N.A. (2019). Distributed intervention: networked content moderation in anonymous mobile spaces, Feminist Media Studies, 19(5), 667-683, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2018.1458746