Platform Agencies: How They Shape Entrepreneurial Practices, On/Offline Spaces, and Local Economies

In recent years, digital platforms have come to permeate a multiplicity of social activities and therefore caused great changes in the way entrepreneurial and innovative practices are pursued and local economies are constituted. This has led to the emergence of new phenomena and concepts such as "platform economy" (Kenney & Zysman, 2016), “platform society” (van Dijck et al. 2018), "platform urbanism" (Graham, 2020), or "platform ecology" (Schmidt et al, 2021), and novel forms of entrepreneurship such as "digipreneurs" (Repenning & Oechslen, 2021). With the power of the Internet, digital platforms are both a new space for novel industrial activities (e.g. digital content industry, mobile games, live streaming industry, online retail, online hailing etc.), as well as an important infrastructure and actor mediating a variety of economic and social activities in virtual and physical space. This increasing convergence of online and offline practices, and workspaces today also demands examining on/offline workspaces, their qualities, and constraints. Against this backdrop, the goal of this session is to focus on the role that digital platforms play at the interface between virtual and physical spaces, and how they influence local economies and translocal practices. It aims at exploring this theme from three perspectives.

The first perspective focuses on how the platform economy enters and interferes with existing local industries and industrial chains, and seeks to understand how that affects the local economy. What do local governments need to leverage the platform or combine the platform and local agency and how do platforms interact with local formal and informal agencies? Research in this area may also focus on the platform economy and industry value chain and industry upgrading, platform economy and path locking, platform economy and industrial clusters, etc.

The second perspective focuses on the forms of entrepreneurship and the way entrepreneurial as well as creative practices evolve are impacted by digital platforms. Numerous innovative startups, for instance, integrate and connect different resources through digital platforms, in countries like China, USA and Germany. Thus, we welcome contributions that emphasize the immediate relationship between the platform, the entrepreneur, and the creative venture.

The third perspective examines the way that local and translocal connections are established on/offline. Platforms facilitate an intense local online web, where actors meet offline and follow each other online. Besides localized on/offline interactions, digital platforms initiate daily translocal connections. Against this background, we welcome contributions that look at the way that digital platforms alter local and translocal interactions or examine how distant actors and mundane representations of distant places are weaved into daily interactions and stand beside or contrast specific local connections, and socio-material practices.

The focus of papers may be on the interaction between e-commerce platforms, short video platforms, live streaming platforms and social media with local industries and local economic activities as well as on different kinds of entrepreneurial or creative actors and their on/offline processes and practices. We welcome both empirical, theoretical, as well as policy-related papers, as well as comparative papers, on rural and urban areas in industrialized, emerging and developing economies.

We aim to publish a special issue out of this session in f.e. Digital Geography and Society.