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Living with algorithms: curation of selves, belonging, and the world around us 
Yathukulan Yogarajah (University College London)
Harry Rodgers (University of Leicester)
Toby Austin Locke (University College London)
Elena Liber (University College London)
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Tuesday 23 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel will explore how social media algorithms are shaping the world around us, social relationships, and understanding of ourselves. What can an anthropological focus on social media algorithms say about what it means to be human in the digital age?

Long Abstract:

The most recent iterations of social media platforms, including TikTok, Kuaishou, Douyin, among others, wield unprecedented influence. With an estimate of 800 million people using TikTok, with many spending several hours a day entranced on TikTok and other social media apps, it is not so surprising that they have been described as shaping politics, our selves, economics, social relationships, and more generally, how we think. Many social media users, media scholars, and journalists have identified ‘the algorithm’ as playing a critical role in this. Intriguingly, social media users are even articulating an interpersonal connection with ‘the algorithm’ that governs their online experience.

While numerous scholars have undertaken efforts to comprehend the intricate ways in which social media algorithms shape our world, a critical gap in this research, potentially stemming from methodological challenges, lies in the absence of an ethnographic approach. Against this backdrop, this panel invites papers that theoretically, ethnographically, and/or methodologically explore how social media algorithms are shaping how we form social relations, how politics and economics is enacted, and how we come to understand the world around us.

Through ethnographic exploration we will delve into the profoundly anthropological question of what it means to be human in an era where individuals are increasingly describing themselves as in a relationship with ‘their algorithm’.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -