Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Commodification: Commodities and Consumption
Friday, 04/Nov/2022:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Lana Swartz
Location: CQ-310

60 seat seminar room

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Nikita Aggarwal1, D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye2, Christopher Odinet3

1UCLA; 2University of Leeds, United States of America; 3University of Iowa

This paper draws on short video content from TikTok to understand how consumers experience buy now, pay later (‘BNPL’) credit products. Social media platforms, particularly TikTok and Instagram, have become an important site for the production of consumer and credit cultures. BNPL is especially popular amongst Gen Zers and millennials, who share their thoughts about BNPL on TikTok. As such, TikTok offers a fertile and novel source of data to understand the preferences and experiences of BNPL consumers. We chose to focus on one BNPL company, Klarna, that operates in the US, UK, and Europe and has a stronger presence on TikTok than some of its competitors. 250 TikTok videos were collected for qualitative content analysis using the TikTok mobile interface and the search term “Klarna” in February 2022. Preliminary findings suggest a mixture of positive and negative user sentiments, often simultaneously, potentially indicating the use of BNPL to satisfy consumers’ present-biased preferences. Videos share themes of financial responsibility and success, as well as indebtedness, guilt, and addiction using BNPL.The paper recommend directions for regulatory intervention, and further theoretical and methodological research into the intersections of social media and personal finance.

Liquid Consumption in the Platform Economy: A Comparative Case Study of Three Platforms and Six User Groups

Christoph Lutz1, Volker Stocker2,3

1BI Norwegian Business School, Norway; 2Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society; 3TU Berlin

The notion of “liquid consumption” draws on Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity to describe shifts in consumer behavior in recent years. Liquid consumption is contrasted to more traditional “solid” consumption and is characterized by ephemerality (rather than endurance), access (rather than ownership), and dematerialization (rather than material possessions). Despite the popularity of liquid consumption theory and the prominent role of digital platforms in shaping liquid consumption, a thorough analysis how digital platforms enable or constrain liquid consumption is missing. In our research, we address this gap and study the role of liquidity on three key digital platforms in the platform economy: Airbnb, Uber, and Fiverr. The research relies on a comparative case study method and is informed by the walkthrough approach, answering three distinct research questions: 1. How inherent is liquidity in a certain product/service category in the first place (pre-platform)? 2. Where do different platforms fall on the dimensions of the liquid-solid consumption spectrum? 3. How does the solidity/liquidity of the consumption/use/experience differ between providers and consumers?


Natalie Ann Hendry

The University of Melbourne, Australia

Across three research projects, I was struck by how podcast listening was normalised as an everyday practice, as well as how popular ideas of digital media being for “learning” justified engaging with podcasts; people could establish and enact their values through their listening practices. This paper adopts facet methodology (Mason, 2011) to recentre participants’ casual, seemingly trivial remarks about listening to finance or therapy podcasts (as per two projects) as well as insights from a third project related to wellness and health podcasts circulating values and norms about health. This paper will offer three examples that explore how podcasts “do” learning. First, podcasts are framed as sites of learning; listeners experience podcast dialogue as encouraging their “own thinking” rather than as didactic lessons. Second, participants and podcast hosts focus on relatability and this shapes podcasts’ communicative capacity. Third, podcasts network hosts, guests and listeners to others’ ideas and positions. Expertise is produced through who podcast hosts know, rather than what they know; hosts’ relationships and access to other “knowledgeable” experts act as mutual endorsements that support ways of thinking, being, doing and learning. Here, critical thinking and learning is framed as hearing others’ perspectives, not necessarily being in conversation with them or guided to tease out arguments or ideas. These insights have implications for how we understand digital learning, as well as how we might engage and intervene where podcast and other conversational media reinforces anti-social or discriminatory views and actions.

The commodification of trust

Balazs Bodo

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, The

Digitization created new ways to produce trust in social, cultural, interpersonal, political, economic relations. Online reputation management services, distributed ledgers, and AI-based predictive systems facilitate trust-necessitating social and economic interactions by controlling the past, the present and the future, respectively. The emergence of the private, technical means of trust production has paved the way to the wide-scale commodification of trust, where trust is produced as a commercial activity, conducted by private parties, for economic gain, often far removed from the loci where trust-necessitating social interactions take place. The commodification of trust has a number of potentially adverse social effects: it may decontextualize trust relationships; it removes trust from the local social and cultural relational contexts; it changes the calculus of interpersonal trust relations. By invoking Karl Polanyi’s work on fictitious commodities, this article argues that the privatization and commodification of trust may have a catastrophic impact on the most fundamental layers of the fabric of society.

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