Sociologica https://sociologica.unibo.it/ <p><strong>Socio<em>logica</em> – International Journal for Sociological Debate – ISSN 1971-8853</strong> an international, peer-reviewed journal committed to fostering rigorous debate not only about theoretical and methodological issues but also about the practice of the sociological craft. Founded in 2007, Socio<em>logica</em> is one of the first international journals of sociology issued solely online and fully open access.</p> en-US <p>The copyrights of all the texts on this journal belong to the respective authors without restrictions.</p><div><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" rel="license"><img src="https://licensebuttons.net/l/by/4.0/88x31.png" alt="Creative Commons License" /></a></div><p>This journal is licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" rel="license">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a> (<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode">full legal code</a>). <br /> See also our <a href="/about/editorialPolicies#openAccessPolicy">Open Access Policy</a>.</p> ester.cois@unica.it (Ester Cois) ojs@unibo.it (OJS Support) Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 OJS 3.2.1.1 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss 60 Platform Studies and Digital Cultural Industries https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11957 <p>By providing a review of a number of recent and relevant publications, this paper reconstructs major trends, topics and challenges within the state of the art of scholarly research on the platformization of cultural industries, addressing the crucial role that digital platforms have acquired in recent years in the production and circulation of a variety of cultural contents. More specifically, after offering an introduction on the ways in which the study of digital platforms emerged as strictly intertwined with the evolution of certain cultural industry sectors, such as gaming and video sharing, the paper addresses in-depth three distinctive domains of cultural production and consumption: music, journalism, and photography. In so doing, the paper traces a variety of perspectives beyond the mainstream political economy-oriented focus of platform studies, suggesting emerging paths for future research on these rapidly shifting and increasingly debated issues.</p> Paolo Magaudda, Marco Solaroli Copyright (c) 2021 Paolo Magaudda, Marco Solaroli https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11957 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Algorithmic Management in the Platform Economy https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/12221 <div><span lang="EN-US">The platform model is the distinguishing organizational form of the early decades of the twenty-first century. Whereas actors in markets <em>contract</em>, hierarchies <em>command</em>, and networks <em>collaborate</em>, platforms <em>co-opt</em> assets, resources, and activities that are not part of the firm. As a distinctive organizational form, the platform model confronts a distinctive managerial challenge: how to manage value-creating activities that are undertaken on the platform but not in the firm? In a triangular geometry, platform owners co-opt the behavior of providers and users, enrolling them in the </span><span lang="EN-US">practices of algorithmic management without managerial authority having been delegated to them. Acting on their own behalf, the ratings and other activities of providers and consumers are algorithmically translated into rankings and other calculating devices that circulate through feedback loops that are twisted rather than circular. Algorithmic management involves a peculiar kind of cybernetic control because at each fold of the feedback loop accountability can be deflected and denied. Whereas Scientific Management in the early twentieth century offered a legitimating principle for the growth of a new managerial class, algorithmic management in the early twenty-first century is reshaping the managerial class. Its power asymmetries at the organizational level are related to coalitions at the regulatory level in which platform owner and investors are in alliance with platform consumers.</span></div> David Stark, Ivana Pais Copyright (c) 2021 David Stark, Ivana Pais https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/12221 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 The Platform Conjuncture https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11613 <p>The paper engages the problematic of platform capitalism in the company of Fernand Braudel. Platform capitalism is accordingly located in the opaque zone of the so-called antimarket, “where the great predators roam,” with its characteristic conditions of monopolization, concentrated economic and political power, and cultures of systematic regulatory evasion. The Braudelian schema requires that platform capitalism is situated, both historically and geographically, in this case both as a distinctive conjunctural moment and as an epiphenomenon of variegated and globalizing processes of financialization and neoliberalization. The paper offers an antidote to the mainstream treatment of platforms, with its technological exuberance, its preoccupation with internally generated dynamics, and its exaggerated claims to novelty and indeed revolutionary significance. Thinking conjuncturally about platform capitalism <em>qua</em> Braudelian capitalism does not just counter these problems, it represents a constructive supplement to extant political-economy accounts. It accentuates and problematizes non-repeating historical continuities (against presumptions of a radical technological-organizational break). And it points to constitutive conditions of coexistence (against the imaginary of a separate, self-propelling, and distinct innovation economy). To pose the platform question along with Braudel is to begin with problematics of monopoly power and antimarket behavior, rather than with technological affordances, network capacities, or the market.</p> Jamie Peck, Rachel Phillips Copyright (c) 2021 Jamie Peck, Rachel Phillips https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11613 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 The Rise of Online Platforms and the Triumph of the Corporation https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11715 <p>Rather than viewing online platforms as digital marketplaces, we analyze platforms as corporations and platform participants as a workforce. Online platforms perform very similar functions as any other corporation, but in different ways (applying terms and conditions as a legal framework and data, reviews, and algorithms for decentralized control) and mostly in different contexts (informal labor markets, sharing communities, social media) than traditional corporations did hitherto. The corporation perspective helps us to understand the transformative power of platforms, while at the same time shedding light on the historical continuation of the corporation as a basic institution in society. We argue that platforms’ transformative capacity lies in their continuous development of new institutions that they impose on their workforce and their clientele, codified in terms and conditions. It is the re-coding capacity that provides platforms the ability to continuously adapt the course of institutionalization in largely autonomous manners.</p> Koen Frenken, Lea Fuenfschilling Copyright (c) 2021 Koen Frenken, Lea Fuenfschilling https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11715 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Platform Works as Stack Economization: Cryptocurrency Markets and Exchanges in Perspective https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11746 <p>What is an economic platform? I address this question by focusing on the case of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. The research draws on interviews with platform actors, fieldwork in one exchange, and computational text analysis of the terms of service of all cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. I argue that cryptocurrency exchange platforms go beyond market processes by fulfilling a variety of functions including banking, infrastructure development, gift-giving, barter, money making, payment system operation, software production, security providing, and centralized extra-blockchain accounting. I propose the concept of “stack” to describe such a process of socio-digital economization that takes place in these data money exchanges. Demonstrating that it is inadequate to describe platforms as mere digital infrastructures, devices, places or markets, I argue that cryptocurrency exchange platforms can best be understood as economization stacks that weave multiple layers and types of interaction, and facilitate an empirically observable range of variegated economic activities.</p> Koray Caliskan Copyright (c) 2021 Koray Caliskan https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11746 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Homines Diversi: Heterogeneous Earner Behaviors in the Platform Economy https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11508 <div><span lang="EN">The platform economy has entered its second decade, and researchers are developing new theorizations of it as an economic form. One important feature is a heterogeneous labor force with respect to hours of work. In this paper, we identify another type of heterogeneity, which is the diversity of economic orientation of earners. Using in-depth interview data from 102 earners on three platforms (Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and StocksyUnited) we find that even within individual platforms, earners have different behavioral models. We have identified three — the maximizing <em>homo economicus</em>; sociologists’ relational <em>homo socialis; </em>and <em>homo instrumentalis</em>. We present evidence of these three types. We then discuss platform policies and how earner diversity aligns with their imperatives for growth. </span></div> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Mehmet Cansoy, Samantha Eddy, Isak Ladegaard, Juliet B. Schor Copyright (c) 2021 Mehmet Cansoy, Samantha Eddy, Isak Ladegaard , Juliet B. Schor https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11508 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Pre-Automation: Insourcing and Automating the Gig Economy https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11657 <div><span lang="EN-US">This paper examines a strategic configuration in the technology, logistics, and robotics industries that we call “pre-automation”: when emerging platform monopolies employ large, outsourced labor forces while simultaneously investing in developing the tools to replace these workers with in-house machines of their own design. In line with socioeconomic studies of imagined futures, we elaborate pre-automation as a strategic investment associated with a firm’s ambitions for platform monopoly, and consider Uber, Amazon Flex and Amazon Delivery Services Partnership Program drivers as paradigmatic cases. We attempt detection of firms' pre-automation strategies through analysis of patenting, hiring, funding and acquisition activity and highlight features of certain forms of gig work that lay the infrastructural foundations for future automation. We argue that certain forms of platform labor may be viewed dynamically as an intermediate arrangement that stages outsourced tasks for subsequent insourcing through automated technologies, and discuss the implications of this configuration for existing theories of outsourcing and technology-driven job displacement.</span></div> Janet A. Vertesi, Adam Goldstein, Diana Enriquez, Larry Liu, Katherine T. Miller Copyright (c) 2021 Janet A. Vertesi, Adam Goldstein, Diana Enriquez, Larry Liu, Katherine T. Miller https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11657 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 A Pandemic of Prediction: On the Circulation of Contagion Models between Public Health and Public Safety https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11470 <p>Digital prediction tools increasingly complement or replace other practices of coping with an uncertain future. The current COVID-19 pandemic, it seems, is further accelerating the spread of prediction. The prediction of the pandemic yields a pandemic of prediction. In this paper, we explore this dynamic, focusing on contagion models and their transmission back and forth between two domains of society: public health and public safety. We connect this movement with a fundamental duality in the prevention of contagion risk concerning the two sides of being-at-risk and being-a-risk. Both in the spread of a disease and in the spread of criminal behavior, a person at risk can be a risk to others and vice versa. Based on key examples, from this perspective we observe and interpret a circular movement in three phases. In the past, contagion models have moved from public health to public safety, as in the case of the Strategic Subject List used in the policing activity of the Chicago Police Department. In the present COVID-19 pandemic, the analytic tools of policing wander to the domain of public health – exemplary of this movement is the cooperation between the data infrastructure firm Palantir and the UK government’s public health system NHS. The expectation that in the future the predictive capacities of digital contact tracing apps might spill over from public health to policing is currently shaping the development and use of tools such as the Corona-Warn-App in Germany. In all these cases, the challenge of pandemic governance lies in managing the connections and the exchanges between the two areas of public health and public safety while at the same time keeping the autonomy of each.</p> Maximilian Heimstädt, Simon Egbert, Elena Esposito Copyright (c) 2021 Maximilian Heimstädt, Simon Egbert, Elena Esposito https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11470 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 SARS-COV-2 and the (Dark) Future of Society: A Machiavellian Approach to the End of Body Sovereignty and the Beginning of Bio-Feudalism https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11420 <p>As much as the event following 9/11 triggered massive changes in our understanding of privacy rights and increased our level of acceptance of government infringement on individuals’ freedom, the pandemic of the SARS-COV-2 is threatening to change our understanding of societal hierarchy and democratic process. In this essay, we imagine a society where two classes, defined by their susceptibility to infection, emerge, and a neo-feudal system is established. We suggest that it is possible to evaluate how likely a dystopian outcome is by using Machiavelli’s understanding of the impact of the Plague on medieval Florence. We also recommend following his advice to avoid such a drift by reaffirming the primacy of politics over scientism.</p> <p><em> </em></p> Andrea Molle Copyright (c) 2021 Andrea Molle https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11420 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Erratum: Paul Stewart, Lean Production and Neo-liberal Crisis. A Comment to "Working Conditions within Italian FCA Group Plants" by Matteo Gaddi https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11561 Paul Stewart Copyright (c) 2021 Paul Stewart https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11561 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Polanyi, Callon, and Amazon: Institutionalist, ANT, and DRAN Approaches to Platform Economies https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11748 <p>Drawing on a detailed analysis of Grabher and König’s study of platformization (Grabher &amp; König, 2020), this essay develops a revision of Actor-Network Theory by proposing how a Device, Representation, Actor and Network or a DRAN Approach can be more helpful in making sense of platform economic processes. First, it locates the ways in which Grabher &amp; König’s article approach platforms from an updated Polanyian perspective. Second, it elaborates on how the aforementioned article critiques static Polanyian perspectives while at the same time building a double tension by a) not being clear whether we observe "the platform economy" as an <em class="">object</em> or platform economization as a <em class="">process</em>, and b) not paying sufficient attention to how platforms that draw on intangible materialities move beyond being mere marketization relations. Third, it presents how to address these tensions by drawing on novel theoretical advances of DRAN Approaches and fresh empirical research concerning platform economies, located at the intersection between computer science and social sciences. Proposing a possibility to integrate historical and contemporary studies of economic processes, the essay ends by elaborating on how Grabher &amp; König’s article has a potential to enable a multi-perspective dynamic research strategy in making sense of not only the contemporary working of platforms, but their historical and socio-technical condition of possibility.</p> Koray Caliskan Copyright (c) 2021 Koray Caliskan https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11748 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 From Performativity to Performances: Reconsidering Platforms’ Production of the Future of Work, Organizing, and Society https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11673 <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This essay takes as its starting point Gernot Grabher and Jonas König's (2020) piece, "Disruption, Embedded. A Polanyian Framing of the Platform Economy," and suggests focusing on how digital platforms are realized on the ground. We propose that the people experiencing platformization have a strong influence over the futures that platforms can evoke. To illuminate this interplay between people and platforms, we offer a taxonomy of three ways that people intervene in how platforms produce the future: innovation, articulation, and opposition. In doing so, we build on Grabher and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">K</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">önig’s essay to enrich the analytical and predictive power of their framework. Moreover, we provide the beginnings of a theoretical framework of our own - namely, a sociology of people’s performances and their role in future-making - which we believe can contribute to ongoing discussions on the future of work and organizing.</span></p> Kevin Woojin Lee, Elizabeth Anne Watkins Copyright (c) 2021 Kevin Woojin Lee, Elizabeth Anne Watkins https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11673 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Share vs Platform Economy https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11540 <p>This commentary on the article by Grabher and König focuses on the controversy in the literature between "sharing economy" and "platform economy". In light of the theoretical and historical perspective expressed by Karl Polanyi in his classic <em>The Great Transformation</em> and adopted by the two authors, sharing economy can be interpreted as an attempt of a resocialization of the economy, while platform economy seems to fully realize what Polanyi calls the "market society". Grabher and König rightly criticize Polanyi’s "double movement", but, in our opinion, they do not draw all the consequences of their criticism. In fact, the theoretical structure they propose fails to explain the reasons why the 1929 crisis was followed by a process of re-embedding of the economy through state intervention, while after the 2008 crisis this process did not take place and the neoliberal model continued to rule the society. Indeed, with the diffusion of the platform economy this model has been further strengthened. Nevertheless, we still believe that digital technologies are in themselves open to different forms of underlying social relations and internal governance. Therefore, it is on such relationships that theoretical attention and political action should be focused. A movement that intends to change the present situation can effectively leverage the new technologies, by guiding them towards reciprocity relations capable of revitalizing the civil society and the internal cohesion of the democratic state.</p> Ivana Pais, Giancarlo Provasi Copyright (c) 2021 Ivana Pais, Giancarlo Provasi https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11540 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Transformation or Structural Change? What Polanyi Can Teach Us about the Platform Economy https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11475 <p>The rise of the platform economy marks the latest phase in the ongoing digital revolution. Indeed, the platform is to this digital era what the factory was to the industrial era, both a symbol and an organizing mechanism. Gernot Grabher and Jonas König (2020) used Karl Polanyi’s analysis of what he termed the “great transformation” to frame the rise of platform economy. The platform economy is remarkable as it confirms Polanyi’s (and Marx’s before him) insight that the reach of the market is based upon increased commodification as it has been able to reach into ever more parts of social life. We introduced the term “platform economy” in 2015 because we recognized that the digital platforms were changing the dynamics of capitalist accumulation – an analysis framed by regulationist school of political economy. The intuition was that the socio-technical innovation of digital online platforms was the critical fulcrum for an economic restructuring that would rewire the flows of data and ultimately money and power. The firms we have termed the "mega-platforms", Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, have become the most valuable and powerful firms in the world. Importantly, the reach of these platforms is global and yet local and personal. Moreover, this platform power has only been reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> Martin F. Kenney, John Zysman, Dafna Bearson Copyright (c) 2021 Martin Kenney, John Zysman, Dafna Bearson https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/11475 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Enclosure 4.0: Seizing Data, Selling Predictions, Scaling Platforms https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/12107 <p>Advance notice: Rather than a straight narrative, this is a roadmap, roughing out rather divergent pathways for the further exploration of platforms. The essay sets off by reiterating the agentic qualities of machinery for understanding the dynamics of platformization and elucidates the dialectical dynamics of (dis)embedded digital platform labor. Subsequently, the societal implications of the “asset-light” business model of platforms as well as of the framing of platform labor as independent entrepreneurship are explored. After perceiving datafication through the optic of assetization, the essay finally explores the platformization of manufacturing and agriculture and the morphing of the material and the digital in the Internet of Things (IoT). A somewhat restless journey, no doubt. But positioning the various pathways vis-à-vis Karl Polanyi’s stand should prevent us from losing orientation. </p> Gernot Grabher Copyright (c) 2021 Gernot Grabher https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/12107 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100 Editors’ Note: Introduction to the Thematic Issue on Power and Control in Platform Monopoly Capitalism https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/12329 <p>This is an introduction to the Special Topic on "Power and Control in Platform Monopoly Capitalism"</p> Ivana Pais, David Stark Copyright (c) 2021 Ivana Pais, David Stark https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 https://sociologica.unibo.it/article/view/12329 Fri, 29 Jan 2021 00:00:00 +0100