Thomas Poell et al., "Platforms and Cultural Production" (Polity, 2022)


Hello, world! This is the Global Media & Communication podcast series.

In this episode, our co-hosts Aswin Punathambekar and Jing Wang discusses the book Platforms and Cultural Production (2021) by Thomas Poell, David B. Nieborg, and Brooke Erin Duffy.

You’ll hear about:

  • How this collaborative project came about, given each of the authors has distinct interests and disciplinary orientations;
  • Given the two keywords of “platforms” and “cultural production,” how did the authors make sense of these keywords in relation to broader processes of digital infrastructures and imaginaries;
  • How three key sections – social media, games, and journalism – were identified by the authors to explain the idea of “platformization”;
  • How the platforms work as multi-sided markets and the approaches to account for the dynamism and lifecycles at work in platform economies;
  • A discussion of Twitter as a useful case of platformization to grasp the challenges of platform governance;
  • Why the authors chose to specifically focus on the role and agency of cultural producers;
  • How to study cultural practices in various platforms across a wide variety of sociopolitical contexts in both Global North and South;
  • The structural inequalities of platform economies, the precarity of the platform-dependent labor market, and the efforts of cultural producers to face insecurity;
  • The cultural meanings of “creativity” and “authenticity” and the tension between the profit-driven platform logic and the individual search for belonging in social media such as TikTok;
  • The relevance of cultural production and platforms to understanding the present and future of democratic governance and civic life in the post-truth era;
  • The next collaborative project, such as a second volume, conferences, and research networks.

About the book

Poell, Nieborg, and Duffy explore both the processes and the implications of platformization across the cultural industries, identifying key changes in markets, infrastructures, and governance at play in this ongoing transformation, as well as pivotal shifts in the practices of labor, creativity, and democracy. The authors foreground three particular industries – news, gaming, and social media creation – and also draw upon examples from music, advertising, and more. Diverse in its geographic scope, Platforms and Cultural Production builds on the latest research and accounts from across North America, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and China to reveal crucial differences and surprising parallels in the trajectories of platformization across the globe. You can find the book from Polity Press HERE.


Thomas Poell is Professor of Data, Culture & Institutions at the University of Amsterdam, program director MA Media Studies, and director of the Research Priority Area on Global Digital Cultures. His research is focused on the digitization of cultural institutions in the light of the proliferation of data, the growing importance of AI, and the rise of major platform corporations. Poell is co-author of Platforms and Cultural Production with David Nieborg and Brooke Erin Duffy (Polity, 2021) and The Platform Society with José van Dijck and Martijn de Waal (Oxford University Press, 2018).

David B. Nieborg is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough with a graduate appointment at the Faculty of Information. David published on the game industry, apps and platform economics, and games journalism in academic outlets such as New Media & Society, Social Media + Society and Media, Culture and Society.

Brooke Erin Duffy is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University, where she is also a member of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty. Her research interests include digital and social media industries; gender, identity, and inequality; and the impact of new technologies on creative work and labor. She's the author of two monographs on gender and cultural production, including (Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love (Yale University Press, 2017).

Co-Hosts: Aswin Punathambekar is Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Jing Wang is Senior Research Manager at CARGC at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.

Editor & Producer: Jing Wang

Keywords: Platforms, Cultural Production, Social Media, Game Industries, Journalism, Governance, Labor, Creativity, Authenticity, Citizenship

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