In the last two decades, and particularly intensified in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, a proliferation of digital platforms can be observed. Spanning from powerful tech-giants, through the leading industrial and agricultural companies, to dynamic venture capital-funded start-ups, platforms enable interaction between distant and heterogeneous actors (e.g. customers, service providers, advertisers, producers, suppliers) via a digital infrastructure. Fueled by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and often supported with a fair portion of Venture Capital (VC) investments, platforms function as digital market organizers, taking on an intermediary and interface role. Have you ever used Uber or Airbnb? Are you on Facebook or Instagram? Do you shop via Amazon from time to time? How about some good old Google? Simply put: a short reflection on our daily behaviors makes us realize the overarching presence of platforms.
Platforms have become an area of concern for various academic communities, which attempt to understand the diverse effects and consequences of those digital market organizers on socio-economic systems. For example, platforms have raised ambiguities around the various forms of indirect, contract-based employment. Moreover, as a perfect business model to extract, analyze, use, and control data, platforms have been leading to intensified discussions on data as the “new gold” of 21st century capitalisms, and particularly the monopolization thereof. Critical perspectives on ratings and rankings embedded in platforms infrastructures, and the emergent platform modes of governance, are growing. Set in the global context of planetary-scale computation, the “environmental price” of platform data is gaining urgency, especially while considering the nexus between technological innovation and socio-ecological transformation.
The course takes platforms as the main focus, systematizing various perspectives on the key issues and applying them in analyzing “platform realities”.
Language of instruction: English.