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Technology of consumption on social shopping platforms: deconstructing similarity

Alaimo, Cristina (2013) Technology of consumption on social shopping platforms: deconstructing similarity. In: Sub-theme 54: Rethinking the Social, Technical and Material Foundations of Organizations, 4 - 6 July 2013, Montreal, Canada.

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Abstract

This paper considers how consumption is remoulded by digital technologies on social shopping platforms. The contribution aims at analytically disentangling some of the premises and assumptions upon which new socio-technical shopping systems are created. More specifically, it tries to uncover the logic behind the computational construction of new consumption categories, and in particular of user similarities, upon which the mechanics of suggestion are based. Meanwhile, scholars often see social media just as settings where social interactions renegotiate practices and meanings, in this paper a different outlook is adopted, whereby attention is directed to a few technical functionalities underlying such interaction. This paper aims at understanding how technology rules and processes re-articulate consumption language by looking at how data are aggregated, under which assumptions aggregation takes place, and thus how similarities between users are constructed. To function effectively, social shopping media have to reconfigure social groups under ‘similarity’ rules. Users are pre-categorised by cross-referencing information about them with information derived from general social networks. In this context, users are constantly requested to improve their profile, selecting among platforms’ information lists and menus. Thus construed, similarity is a computational category that can be obtained using different data and operations. In the case reported in this paper, similarities are computed using also ‘Facebook likes’. Likes and similarity share the same function: their meaning is not semantic, they don’t represent anything. They instead have a functional value, serving as functions of future (meaningful) operations. System requirements and this new consumption grammar, made by rules and operations that are technologically empowered, disassemble consumers’ representation of themselves and of consumption, and consumption practices in unseen ways. This paper aims at accounting for the distinctive implications that this changed technological language of consumption could have for organizations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL: http://www.egosnet.org/jart/prj3/egos/main.jart?re...
Additional Information: ©2013 The Author.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Sets: Departments > Management
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2015 11:41
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2015 15:22
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/63935

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