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Call for papers – OBS Special issue on The co-option of audience creativity on digital platforms

Through its 3-year of activity, the Consortium on Emerging Directions in Audience Research (CEDAR), a network funded by the AHRC in the UK  has observed that the co-option of audiences by large, global players is becoming more intricate than previously. While a number of factors account for this development, the co-option of audiences is increasingly made possible by the appropriation of technology in the development of digital media platforms. These media are able to turn audience’s work and engagement into commodities for attracting attention, metrics to be sold to advertisers and business models (Andrejevic, 2009; van Dijck, 2013; Hearn & Schoenhoff, 2016).

While user-generated content such as blogging or vlogging is a clear sign of audience agency, there is an increased tendency for that work to be co-opted by private and public media, hence leading to new forms of power imbalance between media and audiences. The co-option of audiences refers generally to the appropriation of audience labour, their ideas or the content of their productions, for one’s own purposes, be it by media and other organisations. But it also involves the process of gaining the audience’s agreement and consent in contributing to the objectives of the organisation and the establishing of new forms of relationship between audiences and platforms. On the other hand, audiences sometimes appreciate the recognition of their production by more established media or producers, such as fan communities. Hence, there is an important dialectic dimension in which co-option is negotiated, in which conflicts and tensions arise, and in which norms, rules and roles are redefined (Stehling *et al.*, forthcoming).

This topic has been discussed by political economy of communication and in particular of the web 2.0, focusing on the exploitation of audiences’ work as free labour (Andrejevic, 2009; Wasko, Murdock & Sousa, 2014; Fuchs & Sevignani, 2013), and by cultural studies through the notion of participation (Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins & Carpentier, 2013). However, Vesni? -Alujevi? and Murru (2016) claim the urgency of finding bridges between those perspectives.

*This special issue wishes to investigate the dialectic nature of co-option of audience creativity in blogging and vlogging platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc. Can the commodification of audience creativity and the emancipation it creates live side by side within the same model? When a YouTuber advertises a product, is the content different and does it entail different forms of communication to and from the audiences? How do popular and professional or semi-professional Youtubers, Instagrammers, etc negotiate the boundaries of their work and retain their integrity and authenticity?*

Are welcome contributions to answer these and other related questions by paying attention, amongst others, to:

– the processes of produsage and co-creation of media content by the audiences within new practices of co-option by different kinds of power;

– the commercialisation of “micro-celebrities”/“social media influencers” (in digital platforms as YouTube, blogs, Instagram and Facebook);

– the use of algorithms and its impact on audience creativity;

– the strategies deployed to encourage and orient (or block and prevent) the production of content that (dis)serves the interests of non-audience actors (owners, administrators, advertisers, etc.);

– the processes and mechanisms of translation, such as datafication, metrification, by which audience creativity is co-opted;

– the formation and negotiation of new business models throughout the co-option of audience labour;

– the complex landscape of cross-interests and mutual influences between content users and producers;

– the redefinition and negotiation of audience’s roles and relations with other actors.

For questions, please contact Special Issue Guest Editor Ana Jorge:

Submissions should follow the manuscript format guidelines for OBS* at

All manuscripts should be submitted to , until March 30th 2018.

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