Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Precarity, discrimination and (in)visibility: an ethnography of “The Algorithm” in the YouTube Influencer industry

Glatt, Zoë (2022) Precarity, discrimination and (in)visibility: an ethnography of “The Algorithm” in the YouTube Influencer industry. In: Costa, Elisabetta, Lange, Patricia G., Haynes, Nell and Sinanan, Jolynna, (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Media Anthropology. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, 544 - 556. ISBN 9781032007762

[img] Text (Glatt_Precarity discrimination and (in)visibility_accepted) - Accepted Version
Download (319kB)

Identification Number: 10.4324/9781003175605-53


YouTube’s algorithmic recommendation system—known colloquially as “The Algorithm”—is a powerful character in the lives of professional and aspiring social media content creators, exerting various pressures on them in their struggles for visibility and income. This chapter brings an anthropological approach to the study of algorithms in the context of platformised creative work, seeking to understand YouTube’s algorithmic recommendation system as situated in content creators’ everyday lives through a triangulated examination of their discourses, practices, and experiences. The Algorithm is variously understood as an omnipotent God, a black box to be opened, a mystery to be solved, a voracious machine, and an oppressor of marginalised groups. Above all, it is viewed as unknowable, impenetrable, mysterious, and inscrutable. Though creators’ experiences vary significantly based on a myriad of factors, amongst my participants The Algorithm was universally understood as an antagonistic force, one which heightened conditions of precarity and made their working lives more unpredictable and stressful. With an ever-increasing number of people seeking careers as content creators, it is vital to interrogate the emerging and problematic sociotechnological formations that are core to this new form of labour.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2022 13:45
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 04:00

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics