AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research
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Published By University Of Illinois Libraries

2162-3317, 2162-3317
Updated Saturday, 25 September 2021

Rohan Grover

Internet governance institutions embrace a multistakeholder approach, which calls for civil society organizations (CSOs) to represent community interests. How well do digital rights CSOs fulfill these expectations of “community representation”? Through a case study of the Internet Freedom Foundation, an Indian digital rights organization, this paper evaluates community engagement mechanisms through the lens of equity and democratization, and identifies a gap between expectations and observed practices. It concludes that evaluating representation in digital-native CSOs should account for both socioeconomic and technological dynamics in both transnational and national contexts. This paper offers a contribution to an emergent understanding of civil society’s role in internet governance, grounded in a postcolonial critique of representation and legitimacy, in order to understand whose voices are heard, and whose are still excluded, from internet governance processes.

Jingyi Gu

In this paper, I consider live/life streaming as a mediated venue for making social relationships and a mediatized world constituted of diverse livelihoods. Drawing from my digital ethnography on two Chinese live streaming platforms Inke and Huajiao, I document the emergence of narratives, performances, and interactions that are either sexually suggestive or have gendered implications. I identify patterns of emotional expression and self-disclosure that lie within these interactions and analyze their alignment with and distinction from those that have been considered within the existing theorization of intimacy. In doing so, I examine how live/life streaming constructs scalable “mediated intimacy,” in the one-versus-many semi-public setting, through nurturing gendered performances and building subtle sexual tension between its participants.

Meghan Grosse

In October 2016, the contract between the United States Department of Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) officially expired. This contract represented a long-standing and close relationship between the United States government and ICANN, a relationship that positioned the U.S. as a kind of linchpin in determining the shape and coordination of the global, extraterritorial internet. This research seeks to address the question: what interests and values shaped ICANN at the time of its establishment and in what ways do debates about this system reflect broader concerns about the U.S.-centric nature of early internet governance policy? I address this question using archival analysis focusing on the Ira Magaziner Electronic Commerce papers at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. In examining this archive, there are repeated concerns about the U.S.-centric nature of early internet governance policy, concerns that were clear as early as the mid-1990s and which remained at issue with the oversight of ICANN until 2016. While espousing the values of competitive free-market, the internet governance policy promoted by the U.S. government during the Clinton Administration raised concerns about the concentration of power and potentially monopolistic control of the network by a single nation. Understanding the foundations of debates around oversight and multistakeholderism that took place as early as the 1990s helps us better understand more recent changes in internet governance and also help contextualize and ground discussions about how to best create a truly representative global internet in the future.

Kath Albury ◽  
Jean Burgess ◽  
Bondy Kaye ◽  
Anthony McCosker ◽  
Jenny Kennedy ◽  

This panel deploys a range of qualitative methodologies to investigate how processes of datafication meet with the subjective experiences of ordinary people, and the practices of everyday life. We draw on the model of ‘everyday data cultures’ proposed by Burgess (2017) to explore the ways diverse data practices – including the production and circulation of data visualisations, modes of data storage and vernacular engagements with data literacy – can be understood as aspects of culture. Following Burgess, we define everyday data cultures as the practices that form around and in response to the social media and other data (and data trails) that people generate as we go about our daily lives. These practices form from our diverse engagements with, experiences of, and approaches to understanding and negotiating these data Across these four papers, we address the everyday politics of social media platforms; the development of vernacular pedagogies of AI and machine leaning practices; the historical datafication of sex and gender, and mundane workplace practices of storing, concealing and revealing personal data. In doing so, we seek to highlight and amplify everyday human agency, as well as explore its limits and uneven distribution, and consider how it is being transformed through the logics of data and the machines that feed on them.

Anne Mette Thorhauge ◽  
Jingyan Elaine Yuan ◽  
Jacob Ørmen ◽  
Andreas Gregersen ◽  
Patrick Vonderau

The focus of this panel is the material, organizational, and cultural conditions of digital markets. While the notion of economy refers to the more general production, distribution and allocation in society, the idea of markets represents specific contexts of economic exchange typical of capitalist economies (Carruthers & Babb, 2013). A more elaborate understanding of digital markets and their relationships with digital platforms can expand our understanding of the economic implications that specific types of platform architectures have at the level of economic interaction. The discussion takes as a starting point perspectives from economic sociology that emphasize how markets are embedded into broader social and societal structures (Granovetter, 2017) and conditioned upon cultural norms and conventions (Beckert, 2009). In addition, the panel is informed by the way economic sociology and STS have approached the material conditions of markets (Garcia-Parpet, 2007; MacKenzie, 2018) and the way these conditions frame and transform power relations and interaction patterns on specific markets. The panel consists of four papers that approach this issue from a range of perspectives: The relationship between platform architectures, open market strategies and the formation of ‘commodity money’ in the case of Steam, the relationship between platforms, markets, and state regulation in the case of Alibaba, the role of narratives, imagined futures, and collective action that frame patterns of buying and selling in global stock markets in the case of Gamestop shares and, finally, how the online engagement industry is organized in practice in the case of “click farms”.

Valo Vähäpassi

In this paper, I address the Finnish Oikeus olla- (Right to Be) citizens initiative campaign (2021) for a new trans law. I address the online campaign from the point of view of affect, especially the “feeling of being counted” (Coleman 2013; Papacharissi 2015, 25), in several senses. Through media autoetnography and qualitative content analysis of online material, I address the campaign as the experience of becoming part in the counted people, who come to politically matter. Following Sara Ahmed (Smitchz and Ahmed 2014, 1), I do not separate affect from feeling and emotion. Following scholars interested in the meanings and emotions attached with numbers in the current culture (Kennedy and Hill 2018), and the importance of emotions in politics (Coleman 2013; Papacharissi 2015), I am interested in how meanings and emotion are attached to numbers in LGBTIQ politics and activism. I concentrate on the affective aspects of taking part in the initiative and engaging with the online campaign. In this paper, I ask, what work online signature count and the growing figures shared online do, when combined with the discourses and action frames of the campaign? How are the anticipation of reaching the required 50 000, following the increasing count, and reaching the threshold of required amount of signatures, lived and shared online?

Irina Zakharova

Datafication is widely acknowledged as a process “transforming all things under the sun into a data format” (van Dijck, 2017, p. 11). As data become both objects and instruments of social science, many scholars call for attention to the ways datafication reconfigures scholarly knowledge production, its methodological opportunities, and challenges (Lomborg et al., 2020). This contribution offers a reflection on the interdependence between methodological approaches taken to study datafication and concepts about it, that these approaches provide within the domains of critical data studies and media studies. Expanding on the concept of methods' performativity (Barad, 2007), I apply the notion of methods assemblages: “a continuing process of crafting and enacting necessary boundaries [and relations]" between researchers and all relevant matters (Law, 2004: 144). The key question in the presented study is what kinds of methods assemblages are being applied in current datafication research and what concepts of datafication they produce. 32 expert interviews were conducted with scholars who published empirical work on dataficaiton between 2015 and 2020. Three methods assemblages were developed. Central to distinguishing between methods assemblages are the ways of associating of the involved actors and things. In my analysis the questions of (1) what we are talking about when talking about datafication and (2) kinds of knowledges that researchers were interested in producing can be understood as such ways of associating. The methods assemblages contribute to critical data studies by producing accounts about datafication processes that are in concert with the methods assemblages applied to study these.

Katja Kaufmann ◽  
Monika Palmberger ◽  
Carolina Parreiras ◽  
Arianna Bussoletti ◽  
Francesca Belotti ◽  

Mobile media technologies place users in digital (online) as well as physical (offline) spaces in novel ways, opening up new environments of affordances. In everyday life these mobile online and offline spaces are increasingly interdependent and interwoven in manifold ways. Practices, experiences, meanings and expectations are negotiated across these spaces, while at the same time they are bound by the respective logics and limitations, leading to new interrelations and contradictions. The mobile, interlocking but non-converging nature of these spaces involves issues of access and power in struggles over in(ter)dependencies and leads to significant method(odolog)ical, practical and ethical challenges for researchers, to which the current COVID-19 pandemic only adds complexity. Researchers are confronted with questions such as: What are appropriate designs to study mobile online and offline spaces and their intersections? Do interdependent spaces call for likewise interdependent methodological approaches? In what ways can elaborated mixed and multi-method designs capture complexity adequately without the researchers losing sight of the specifics? And what are the ethical and practical implications for the parties involved? Meanwhile, in the methodological literature, the specific challenges associated with researching the intersections of online and offline spaces, especially under mobile conditions, are rarely explicitly addressed. For this reason, the panel presents a thought-provoking range of five examples of research into phenomena at the intersections of mobile online and offline spaces and the associated experiences as well as methodological challenges of researchers in dealing with issues of in(ter)dependence at all levels.

Yu Ting Poh ◽  
Crystal Abidin

Following the meteoric rise of TikTok in the global market and the dominance of Douyin in the Chinese market, this article maps academic scholarship focusing on Douyin and TikTok. Examining Chinese and English journal articles studying Douyin and TikTok, we address three research questions: Firstly, what are the disciplinary approaches and methodologies employed by researchers in studying Douyin and TikTok? Secondly, what are the foci of research questions put forth by researchers? Thirdly, how is the academic scholarship on these platforms developing independently? In terms of disciplinary leanings, Douyin publications tended to be published by scholars in the humanities and social sciences while TikTok and comparative publications demonstrated a broader scope of disciplinary leanings. Regarding methodology, Douyin publications tended to employ qualitative ones. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed approaches for TikTok publications were more balanced. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were observed in comparative publications. Data collection methods across publications included digital fieldwork, surveys, interviews, experiments, media texts, and ethnography; while data analyses included content, thematic, statistical, network, critical discourse, and descriptive forms of analyses. Regarding research questions, articles on Douyin tended to engage with e-commerce, the development of short form videos, and practices, cultures and communities. Articles on TikTok tended to engage with platform logics and governance concerns, fame, virality and influencers, and representation of events or information. Comparative publications tended to engage with platformization, expression of cultural differences, fan engagement strategies and factors underlying app usage. Finally, academic scholarship on Douyin and TikTok are largely based in independent geographic regions.

Kai Prins ◽  
Mariah Wellman

With the emergence of the coronavirus in 2020 led to the closing of gyms and churches, along with the “she-cession” in which women disproportionately left the workforce (Hammer, 2021), Christian women with an interest in fitness increasingly turned to home-fitness-based multilevel marketing (MLM). MLM companies like Beachbody, for example, saw a 300% increase in subscribers in 2020 (Haithman, 2020). Although MLMs encourage their distributors to think of themselves as “independent entrepreneurs,” these companies demand fealty -- putting Christian women who participate in a double bind: bound to company, family, and God, they must still position themselves as free agents and strong women in order to build their “fitness ministry” (Coach 8, 2020) and close the sale. We extend Sullivan & Delany’s (2017) framework of “evangelical entrepreneurial femininity” by asking how fitness complicates or shepherds the relationship between the independent entrepreneur, the MLM, and the patriarchal foundation of her religious practices. Our initial research suggests that Christian women navigate the potential shame of occupying a masculine economic role and a muscular body by reframing Beachbody as an opportunity to fulfill God’s plan, (re)inhabit the home, and encounter the Divine through their uplines. References: Haithman, D. (2020, May 18). Beachbody sees gains. Retrieved from Hammer, B. (2021, January 25). How to fix women's jobs during the covid-19 pandemic. Sullivan, K. R., & Delaney, H. (2017). A femininity that ‘giveth and taketh away’: The prosperity gospel and postfeminism in the neoliberal economy. Human Relations, 70(7), 836-859.

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