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DCU, Henry Grattan, Room: GLA.CG86

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Platforms and Ideological Production: False consciousness and structural effectivity in the sharing economy

Athina Karatzogianni (University of Leicester) and Jacob Matthews (University of Paris VIII Vincennes in Saint-Denis)

Abstract

Our work investigates the sharing economy and alternative digital governance actors’ ideological variant discourses on the formations of diverse models, organizations and modes of production in the network economy. It combines academic scholarship from the sharing economy, digital activism and critical digital cultural economy studies and it draws upon in-depth interviews, practitioner event observation by examining an assortment of discourses. We find that there is an ideological spectrum, ranging from commons-oriented, peer-to-peer, decentralized, platform-cooperativist rhetoric influencing activist, corporatist and statist organization particularly on the digital economy. Actors in the intermediation platforms are conditioned by this spectrum of “collaborative”, “sharing” ideologies, while hybrid (online and offline) organizational structures are effectively produced in direct relation to these specific ideological frames through experimental digital socio-technical systems. This development reshapes decisions in the digital political economy about digital governance, business models, labor conditions, and critically how productive, commodity and money capital circulate in specific organizational structures, irrespective of traditional varieties of capitalism. It also raises questions about the translation of distrust and suspicion of classical hierarchical formal centralized structures in favor of an ideological vision of informal, non-hierarchical organisations enabled by online communication platforms. This ideological production ranges from legitimizing and reasserting a reformist more humane capitalism to more radical visions of cooperative society, to commons oriented production, resisting privatization through the recapturing of the public space as commons resources managed responsibly by communities with governmental participation. The political potential of platform activism points to the importance of “translating” this new ideological spectrum into material relations of production. We propose that this involves an understanding as to whether there is higher effectivity of “false consciousness” discourses that “cling” to dominant social forms, compared to lower effectivity for alternative ideological production aiming at surpassing the dominant models and relations of production.

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Dr Athina Karatzogianni is an Associate Professor in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester and researches the use of digital technologies by emerging sociopolitical and economic formations, social movements, protest, and insurgency groups. Athina can be reached at athina.k@gmail.com and her work can be downloaded openly in pre-publication form here: http://works.bepress.com/athina_karatzogianni/

Professor Jacob Matthews (Information and Communication Sciences at the Université Paris 8) is the Director of the Cemti research lab. His research now primarily focuses on the political economy of the Internet and digital intermediation platforms.

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DCU, Henry Grattan, Room: GLA.CG86

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