Schooling the Platform Society

Social media platforms have become key parts of everyday life. The use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Spotify and so on has become so widespread that some commentators have begun to speak of an emerging “platform society” and of “platform capitalism.” At the same time, we are seeing the development of new platforms for use in schools. What might be the impact on education of the emergence of a platform society and platform capitalism?

The sociologists of social media Jose van Dijck and Thomas Poell have argued that “over the past decade, social media platforms have penetrated deeply into the mechanics of everyday life, affecting people’s informal interactions, as well as institutional structures and professional routines.” As a result, they have suggested that we are entering a new kind of “platform society” in which social, institutional and interpersonal traffic is largely channeled by a global online infrastructure that is driven by algorithms, fueled by data, and animated by the commercial ambitions of private, for-profit companies.

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