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Event Series Event Series: IPE Data Lunchtime Series

Beyond ‘The Algorithm’: Fields, Drama, and Extreme Content Among Vegan Influencers

May 19, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Abstract: Existing research on polarization on social media platforms emphasizes the role of algorithmic “filter bubbles” and platform failure in amplifying extreme attitudes among online audiences. This article provides a different approach by focusing on online creators rather than audiences. Christin adapts field theory to examine the dynamics structuring exchanges between social media influencers, which she analyzes as contentious position-takings within fields created and mediated by social media platforms. To demonstrate the relevance of this framework, Christin draws on a qualitative study of vegan influencers on YouTube and Instagram. Two pathways shape the structuration of fields of social media production: drama, or highly publicized scandals and interpersonal conflicts between influencers; and extreme content, in which influencers and users reinforce their shared worldviews through niche and inflammatory content. Christin concludes by discussing the relevance of field theory for the study of social media and online disinformation more broadly.
Biography: Angèle Christin is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and affiliated faculty in the Sociology Department, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization at Stanford University. She studies how algorithms and analytics transform professional values, expertise, and work practices.
The meeting will be held in person at PEB 721, on the 7th floor of the UC San Diego Social Sciences Public Engagement Building. Lunch will be served. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options will be available. Kindly RSVP by May 17 at 2 p.m. if you are planning to attend (limited number of seats available!).


May 19, 2023
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Angèle Christin


Public Engagement Building (PEB) 721
9625 Scholars Drive North MC 0305
La Jolla, CA 92093 United States
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