captivating platforms

This project explores the online platform as an environment. Focusing on entrepreneurship platforms in contemporary China, it traces the work of platform administrators to examine how they create material and semiotic environments. While I explore the platform as a global paradigm, I specifically investigate its Chinese cultural, political, and economic implications. In China, digital platforms support a popular view that the country’s low-income population presents an untapped economic potential. Drawing on a qualitative methodology and using failure as a heuristic, I explore the platform as a conceptually and materially captivating environment—both a powerful trope for democratized opportunity and an infrastructure designed to capture an economic potential. How, I ask, do platform environments valorize China’s disenfranchised population? And, what aims, desires, and hopes are built into their infrastructures? How do they mediate social life? How are platforms themselves produced as multimodal narratives? Addressing these issues, the project investigates the narrative production of digital platforms in digital media as a form of media politics aimed at steering popular ambitions and debates about economic opportunity. 

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