[Air-L] CfP: Information, Communication & Society Special Issue, "Platforms, Power and Friction"

Popiel, Pawel pawel.popiel at asc.upenn.edu
Fri Apr 14 09:07:26 PDT 2023

Hi All,

Apologies for cross-posting!

Please see the below call for abstracts for a special issue of Information, Communication & Society on "Platforms, Power and Friction" that Krishnan Vaseduvan and I are editing, and please circulate within your networks:

Technology platform companies, from Amazon to Uber, require the constant flow of user data to maximize profits and fuel their growth. The dependency of their expanding business models on datafication (Mejias & Couldry, 2019) creates incentives for platform companies to remove any and all frictions that impede their accumulation of capital. For instance, scholarship draws attention to the ways platforms remove frictions by employing user-friendly design to obscure user data surrender and by opposing policies that may regulate or disrupt data flows. Frictions denote oppositional and counter-forces, which can slow down processes, reorient and produce movement (e.g., Tsing, 2005), or bring it to a halt. In the context of platform capitalism, frictions in domains as different as technical platform (re)design, gig labor organizing, and information infrastructure and digital market regulation, can manifest as democratic counterforces responding to, shaping, and contesting platform logics that intermediate and sometimes undermine democratic processes. As a theoretical construct, "frictions" draw attention to the outsized, but contestable power that platform companies wield over communication, civic action, labor and more broadly, democracy.

We invite paper abstracts that theorize friction, including as a cultural, socio-technical, and political economic phenomenon, in the following contexts:

  *   Platforms as intermediaries of and actors within key democratic processes
  *   Global and local politics of data and platform governance
  *   Specific domains of platform regulation, including speech, data, and competition
  *   Labor power and politics in the gig economy
  *   Platform feature design, including in areas like content moderation and data collection
  *   Platformization of media industries, particularly with respect to local production
  *   Infrastructural politics, including data centers, warehouses, and cloud infrastructures
  *   Environmental and climate politics related to platform infrastructure and data flows

We seek empirical studies examining friction from a broad range of theoretical frameworks including (but not limited to) critical political economy, digital studies, feminist studies, critical race studies, cultural studies, media studies, and platform studies. We encourage submissions from a diverse set of methodological approaches including qualitative, ethnographic, mixed methods, as well as quantitative approaches. Studies about friction from underrepresented regions and/or about social groups underrepresented in research are especially encouraged.

Format and Process:
The special issue will include eight full-length original articles (7,000 words). For the initial submission we request that interested authors submit a 300-word abstract and short 100-word bios for each author. Submissions should specify the theoretical/methodological approach of the study and also how it resonates with the special issue on friction.

Selected authors will be invited to submit a full manuscript, which will undergo an initial review by the guest editors. Papers that meet the special-issue submissions standards will then undergo a full blind-review process by Information, Communication & Society. Selected papers are not guaranteed publication in the special issue.


  *   Abstracts due - May 15, 2023
  *   Notification of acceptance of proposals - May 23, 2023
  *   Deadline for full papers - August 25, 2023
  *   Peer review - August to December 2023
  *   Anticipated publication - mid-2024

Interested authors should send their submissions and author bios to the special issue guest editors: Pawel Popiel (ppopiel at asc.upenn.edu<mailto:ppopiel at asc.upenn.edu>) and Krishnan Vasudevan (kvasu at umd.edu<mailto:kvasu at umd.edu>).


Pawel Popiel is a George Gerbner Postdoctoral Fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on the political economy and regulation of digital media and communication technologies. His work has been published in journals like Information, Communication & Society, Policy & Internet, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and Journal of Digital Media & Policy, and in edited books. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania.

Krishnan Vasudevan is an assistant professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Krishnan's critical scholarship on design, labor practices and journalism has been published in New Media & Society, Journalism Studies and other reputable publications. His 2022 documentary feature, One Driver, One Mic about taxi driver activism, was an official selection at the 2023 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and will be distributed through Collective Eye Films.

Pawel Popiel, PhD
George Gerbner Postdoctoral Fellow
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

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