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Platform Discourses: A Critical Humanities Approach to the Texts, Images, and Moving Images Produced by Tech Companies

Project description

A scholarly analysis of social media

The emergence of social media is one of the most prominent technological advances of the last decade and one that has changed our world forever – in both good and bad ways. The social impact of today's platforms has attracted much attention from researchers. The EU-funded PLATFORM DISCOURSES project will conduct a systematic scholarly analysis of the discourses through which tech companies – from Google to Facebook and from Apple to Airbnb – seek to generate trust around their products. The project will present a critical framework to understand how tech companies not only disrupt traditional markets and transform people's practices, but also seek to reconfigure the stories through which people relate to themselves, others and their ecosystems.

Objective

This project aims to develop a critical humanities perspective on the platform society, in which the online platforms owned by major tech companies—from Google to Facebook, from Apple to Airbnb—are integrated into all domains of life. In recent years, scholars across the humanities and the social sciences have analysed the functioning of platforms and their social impact. However, there has not yet been a systematic scholarly analysis of the discourses through which tech companies seek to generate trust around their products, addressing people not only as consumers, but increasingly also as a general “public.” This angle is crucial, because tech discourses are not mere by-products of platforms themselves, but form an integrated part of the development in which tech companies present their market-driven services as neutral spaces for social interaction. Platform Discourses offers this angle on tech companies as discourse producers by employing methods of narrative, image, and discourse analysis in order to analyse the texts, images, and moving images generated by tech companies: from books to corporate blogs (e.g. Airbnb’s Citizen blog), from product presentations to billboard campaigns (e.g. Apple’s World Gallery), from manifestos to public statements (e.g. Microsoft’s call for a digital Geneva convention). The project identifies the ideological underpinnings of those materials. What are the dominant visions of individual and collective human existence tech companies develop in their discourses? How have these visions evolved over the decades? And what conceptual understandings of humanity inspire Google’s mission to “do no evil” or Facebook’s ideal of a “global community”? Answering these questions, Platform Discourses presents a critical framework to understand how tech companies not only disrupt traditional markets and transform people’s practices, but also seek to reconfigure the stories through which people relate to themselves, others, and their ecosystems.

Host institution

TILBURG UNIVERSITY- UNIVERSITEIT VAN TILBURG
Net EU contribution
€ 265 000,00
Address
WARANDELAAN 2
5037 AB Tilburg
Netherlands

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Region
Zuid-Nederland Noord-Brabant Midden-Noord-Brabant
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 265 000,00

Beneficiaries (2)