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The Digital Production Gap in the Algorithmic Era


As the volume of digital content continues to grow exponentially, whose voices dominate online becomes more salient. Democracy is at stake in the competition for an audience in the online commons. Digital technology was supposed to overcome the media dominance of the elite with a broader array of voices, but social class is one of the most reliable predictors of digital content production, interacting with both racialized and gendered inequalities. Yet analyzing this form of digital inequality requires a theoretical framework of who controls the digital means of production, not simply a linear model of bridging the gap with more access or skills. This chapter examines digital power relations by tracing the history of online content production inequalities over time, showing how the increasing grip by the ruling class, corporations, and governments – in the wake of algorithms and artificial intelligence – makes it increasingly difficult for everyday people to be heard online. While most marginalized communities never got a fair shot because of constraints over resources in the early and more open web, in the algorithmic era this is even more of an uphill battle. The grip that platforms and their owners have over content creation—and especially distribution—makes it vital to theorize this broader concept of the digital means of production.
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hal-03823266 , version 1 (21-10-2022)


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Jen Schradie, Liam Bekirsky. The Digital Production Gap in the Algorithmic Era. Deana A. Rohlinger; Sarah Sobieraj. The Oxford Handbook of Digital Media Sociology, Oxford University Press, pp.567-585, 2021, Oxford Handbooks, 9780197510636 ; 9780197510667. ⟨10.1093/oxfordhb/9780197510636.013.33⟩. ⟨hal-03823266⟩
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