2023

The Platform Governance Research Network Conference 2023: Imagining Sustainable, Trustworthy, and Democratic Platform Governance

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global reliance on the services provided by a range of major online ‘platform’ companies has skyrocketed. Online marketplaces, social networks, cloud providers, streaming services, and service delivery platforms all rake in record and increasing profits as they continue to embed themselves ever more deeply into public and private life.

At the same time, dissatisfaction with the platform economy status quo is growing internationally. Across policy areas like content moderation, competition, labor law, and data protection, governments around the world are developing new rules to tackle troubling forms of outsized political, cultural, and infrastructural platform power. Civil society groups are mobilizing creative transnational campaigns in an effort to pressure firms into making changes to their services; tech workers are organizing, creating unions, striking, and staging high-profile walkouts; and firms themselves are proposing new institutions and processes for self-regulation. From many directions, we are seeing growing pressure to make platforms more sustainable, trustworthy and democratic. 

In a time marked by pressing transnational social, political, ecological and economic crises, how can researchers — through critical, conceptually creative and empirically-driven scholarship — better examine, and even re-imagine, the constantly developing role that platform providers, big and small, play in society and politics? How can platform governance research more explicitly engage with, and connect to, the vital political questions of our time?

Call for Abstracts

The Platform Governance Research Network brings together researchers interested in ‘platform governance’, broadly defined. From online labor markets and locally-tethered service delivery platforms, to social networks and cloud providers, we are interested in highlighting cutting-edge conceptual and empirical work that engages with the politics and policy of the 21st century ‘platformized’ internet.

We are interdisciplinary, and welcome relevant submissions from a wide range of researchers (who need not be affiliated with academic institutions). 

In particular, we’re interested in:

  • Empirical studies of platform governance from the micro to the macro, utilizing a range of qualitative as well as quantitative, experimental, and/or computational methods. Suitable topics might include, but not be limited to: analyses of the practices of commercial or community platform rule-making and norm-setting; systems-based studies of automated decision-making across various types of platforms; more focused explorations of specific topical issues such as political advertising, disinformation, or copyright.
  • Policy-oriented analyses of private and governmental efforts to regulate platforms across the broad categories of online content, competition policy, labour, data protection, and more. Proposals might include comparative policy analyses or detailed case studies of specific regulatory frameworks and approaches. Research that focuses on under-examined cases, regulatory episodes, or regions is especially welcome.
  • Conceptual or theoretical insights that highlight gaps in the current public or scholarly conceptions of platform governance, as well as normatively oriented work that engages with important questions, visions, and notions for/of platform governance going forward. Submissions might evaluate critical perspectives across a range of scholarly traditions, from science and technology studies to postcolonial and critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, or political economy.
  • The meta-aspects of scholarly work as it relates to major technology platforms, and the relations between policy, academia, and civil society in the emerging platform governance research and policy landscape. Possible submissions might include work on the best ethical practices for collaborating (or not) with industry, ways to secure privacy-preserving data access for researchers, or strategies used by civil society advocates to push industry and governments in more just directions.

Beyond highlighting the current research landscape, our goal is to identify the major limitations facing researchers from different subfields and spark collaborations that strive to move beyond extant limitations and silos. We are particularly keen on incorporating multiple perspectives from researchers located all around the world, so we encourage submissions from under-represented groups and diverse cultural and geographic backgrounds. We are especially interested in perspectives outside of U.S. and European contexts and will strive to accommodate multiple participant timezones in our programme.

Submission Details

Please submit extended abstracts of 800-1000 words via EasyChair.

Abstracts will be blind peer-reviewed and should include: 

  • a short section framing the context/problem being addressed; 
  • a clear research question; 
  • conceptual framework;
  • details about how the submission seeks to address that question, including its research design and/or conceptual framework; and  
  • a brief discussion of the paper’s contributions to the literature and/or ongoing policy debates.

Authors of selected abstracts will present their ongoing work at the Conference. Submission of a complete paper before the Conference will not be required, although authors might be invited to submit full papers for a Conference Special Issue. 

This conference is open to all interested researchers and members of civil society and will have no registration fee. Please contact info@platgov.net with any questions.

Timeline

  • Deadline for abstract submission: end of day December 18, aka 00:00:00 December 19 anywhere on earth time
  • Accepted Submissions announced: mid-February 2023
  • Conference: April 3-5, 2023, online, exact times TBD; main conference days with presentations April 3 and 4 GMT

2023 Conference Organizing Committee

  • Naomi Appelman, University of Amsterdam
  • Luca Belli, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School
  • Pranav M Bidare, Center for Internet and Society (CIS-India) 
  • Robyn Caplan, Data & Society Research Institute / Duke University
  • Yasmin Curzi de Mendonça, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School
  • Robert Gorwa, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • Ivar Hartmann, Insper
  • Clara Iglesias Keller, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • João C. Magalhães, University of Groningen
  • Rotem Medzini, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Sonja Solomun, McGill University
  • Marcelo Thompson, University of Hong Kong
  • Kebene Wodajo, University of St. Gallen
  • Stacy Wood, University of California, Los Angeles

2022-2024 Platform Governance Research Network Steering Committee

  • Carolina Aguerre, Universidad Catolica del Uruguay
  • Sana Ahmad, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • Naomi Appelman, University of Amsterdam
  • Chinmayi Arun, Yale Law School
  • Rosemary Ayeji, Digital Africa Research Lab
  • Luca Belli, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School
  • Deepti Bharthur, IT For Change
  • Pranav Bidare, Center for Internet and Society
  • Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology
  • Robyn Caplan, Data & Society Research Institute / Duke University
  • Julie Cohen, Georgetown University
  • Yasmin Curzi de Mendonça, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School
  • Tarleton Gillespie, Microsoft Research New England
  • Grace Githaiga, Kenya ICT Action Network
  • Robert Gorwa, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • Anita Gurumurthy, IT For Change
  • Ivar Hartmann, Insper
  • Amélie Heldt, Leibniz Institute for Media Research 
  • Clara Iglesias Keller, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • Tomiwa Ilori, University of Pretoria
  • Ashnah Kalemera, Collaboration on ICT Policy for East & Southern Africa 
  • Christian Katzenbach, University of Bremen
  • João C. Magalhães, University of Groningen
  • Robin Mansell, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Shannon McGregor, University of North Carolina
  • Rotem Medzini, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Paloma Viejo Otero, University of Bremen
  • Taylor Owen, McGill University
  • Sonja Solomun, McGill University
  • Marcelo Thompson, University of Hong Kong
  • Heidi Tworek, University of British Columbia
  • Kebene Wodajo, University of St. Gallen
  • Stacy Wood, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Kinfe Yilma, Addis Abbaba University