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The Material Conditions of Platforms: Monopolization Through Decentralization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
Published2020

King's Authors

Abstract

In this article, we add research on technical integration and dependency to the theories of platformization. Our research seeks to understand how platforms have been able to technically integrate themselves into the fabric of the mobile ecosystem, transforming the economic dynamics that allow these largely enclosed entities to compete. We therefore want to consider platforms as service assemblages to account for the material ways in which they have decomposed and recomposed themselves for developers, enabling them to shift the economic dynamics of competition and monopolization in their favor. This article will argue that this shift in the formation of platform monopolies is being brought about by the decentralization of these services, leading to an overall technical integration of the largest digital platform such as Facebook and Google into the source code of almost all apps. We present new digital methodologies to surface these relations and material conditions of platforms. These methodologies offer us a whole new toolkit to investigate how decentralized services depend on each other and how new power relations are formed.

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