The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Call for Papers: IPP2016 "The Platform Society"


Location: Thursday 22 - Friday 23 September 2016, University of Oxford.

Convenors: Helen Margetts (OII), Vili Lehdonvirta (OII), Jonathan Bright (OII), David Sutcliffe (OII), Andrea Calderaro (EUI / ECPR).
Abstract deadline: 14 March 2016.

This conference is convened by the Oxford Internet Institute for the OII-edited academic journal Policy and Internet, in collaboration with the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) standing group on Internet and Politics.


Large scale internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber play an increasingly important role in contemporary society. These platforms facilitate connections between friends and family members, between politicians and voters, between governments and citizens, between consumers and producers, and between employers and employees. As such, they are becoming venues where large segments of contemporary life are played out.

The data collected and in some cases made openly available by these platforms creates huge opportunities for advancing research in many fields of social science. Exciting advances have already been made in understanding, for example, how information spreads across networks and the importance of social influence on personal action. Yet researchers have only scratched the surface of the possibilities offered by new data sources and analysis methods.

At the same time, the decisions made by these platforms increasingly shape contemporary life. Whether taking employment through Upwork, purchasing goods on Amazon, seeking information via Google, remitting money via PayPal, or debating politics on Twitter or joining a campaign on our actions are enabled and constrained by sophisticated algorithms and company policies. Meanwhile, the concept of ‘government as a platform’ offers the potential to reshape the entire policy-making environment. The decisions, assumptions and interests reflected in these algorithms and platforms will have significant consequences for society at large, yet understanding of these processes is still very limited.


The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars studying platforms, both in terms of interactions taking place on platforms and the data they generate, as well as the platforms themselves and how they are shaped and operated. We welcome theoretical as well as empirical, qualitative as well as quantitative studies, from all disciplines that can provide useful perspectives on the contemporary “platform society”. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Data driven studies of platform-mediated interactions (e.g. using APIs or scraped data)
  • The viability, opportunities and challenges of ‘government as a platform’ 
  • Studies of how algorithms and user interfaces shape interactions (e.g. STS, HCI)
  • Impacts of platforms in a given industry or government area (e.g. taxis, local gov)
  • Formal economic modeling of platform competition, strategy and policy
  • Political mobilization around platforms (e.g. Uber and AirBnB protests)
  • Open source and distributed platforms and their politics (e.g. Bitcoin, blockchain)
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship in platform marketplaces (e.g. App Store, Google Play)
  • Issues in research use of platforms (e.g. Mechanical Turk survey practices)
  • Conflicts between public policy and platform rules (e.g. Google in Europe)
  • Studies of how platform firms manage platforms (e.g. theoretical, ethnographic)
  • Civic activism and mobilization platforms such as We the People petitions platform, or Avaaz
  • Comparative studies of platforms (e.g. rules of Twitter vs. Facebook)
  • Public policy development related to platforms (e.g. EU Digital Single Market)
  • Transnational issues in platforms and digital markets (e.g. TTIP, safe harbor)
  • The ethics of algorithms and responsible innovation

Accepted papers will be organized into thematically and methodologically relevant sessions and parallel streams. 

Proposal submission

Paper proposals

Paper proposals should consist of a title and a 1,000-word extended abstract that specifies and motivates the research question, describes the methods and data used, and summarises the main findings. Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and the authors of accepted proposals are expected to submit full papers prior to the conference. Applicants will have the opportunity to co-submit their paper to the journal Policy and Internet, which will operate a fast-track review process for papers accepted to the conference.

Paper submissions can also be considered for a Best Paper Award (sponsored by the journal Policy and Internet). The prize will be awarded at the closing session of the conference. As the paper is intended to be published in a future issue of the journal, authors should indicate whether they would like their paper to be considered for the prize.

Poster proposals 

Posters should summarise in a visually engaging manner the purpose, methods and results of an original piece of research. All accepted submissions will be considered for a Best Poster Award. The prize will be awarded at the closing session of the conference.

Important dates 

  • Extended abstract submission deadline: 14 March 2016
  • Decisions on abstracts: 2 May 2016
  • Full paper / poster submission deadline (for accepted abstracts): 1 September 2016
  • Conference dates: Thursday 22 - Friday 23 September 2016