RMeS Winter School & Graduate Symposium 2021-22

— Image: Brugge 2021 (street art by JAMZ, photo by Niels Niessen)

RMeS Winter School – Grasping the Platform Society

When: 27 & 28 January 2022
Time: TBA
Where: Radboud University Nijmegen
ECTS: 2 (two full days plus preparation 3 days)
Organized by: Dr Niels Niessen, Prof. dr Anneke Smelik, Dr Yosha Wijngaarden and RMeS
Open to: PhD candidates who are a member of RMeS

Registration | Register before December 20, 2021

This year’s RMeS Winter School (27-28 January 2022) will be organised by Radboud University Nijmegen.

We live in a platform society. Yet, media scholars have only started to think through the consequences that all aspects of human life are mediated by digital platform infrastructures owned and controlled by profit-driven tech companies such as Google and Facebook. In recent years, these companies have come under increasing scrutiny, as an awareness has grown among governments, institutions and occasionally the general public about the downsides of the digitization of everything. From filter bubbles to fake news, from privacy scandals to addiction by algorithm, and from the exploitation of workers to the enormous environmental impact of platformization: this reality is clearly not sustainable or socially just. But while the EU, the US and also China each in their own ways seek to harness big tech, peoples’ lives have become entangled with digital platforms to a seeming point of no return. To search is to google, to meet is to zoom, to long is to swipe, to share is to care. And perhaps this is just a start, because as we speak tech moguls are colonizing space while back on earth Facebook is scaling up to the metaverse.

This year’s winter school will address how we as media scholars are able to grasp the platform society. How do we understand and conceptualize the platform society and how do we approach its manifestations as research objects? What kinds of knowledge do long-standing as well as new methods (qualitative, quantitative, or hybrid) yield? What new collaborations are needed, both across disciplines within academia but also between academia and society at large? For example, what could be the role of citizen science? How does the platform society challenge and call for the rethinking of concepts such as individuality, integrity, truth, and privacy? How does the study of the platform society connect to other main debates of our times, in particular the climate crisis and social safety? And on a more practical level: how do we as academics and workers at public institutions negotiate and resist platform capitalism, from the platforms we use to meet online (Zoom, Teams or open-source?) to the places we publish (behind a paywall or open access?).

The program will feature a keynote event (lecture and workshop) with Prof. dr. José van Dijck (Utrecht University) and Geert-Jan Bogaerts (VPRO television and chairman of the Public Spaces-initiative). There will also be a workshop on academic integrity (facilitated by Roel Willems, Radboud University) and a discussion group on privacy (faciliated by the Critical Humanities research group at Radboud University as part of its 2021-2022 “Keywords for the Never-Normal” program).

Participation and abstract submission

Other than this keynote event and these workshops, we will have panel sessions where participants discuss each others’ work. Beforehand you submit your written materials which may take the form of (1) a text of 5,000-6,000 words (for example taken from your dissertation); or (2) your PhD proposal (for those early in their PhDs). In addition, we invite you to add a reflection in which you outline how your research relates to the central theme of the platform society. To those whose research is not at all related to the study of the platform society: you may consider to reflect on how your work is affected by online platforms and digitization. As in: How do the platforms that mediate our (scholarly) lives change our ways of working and thinking? During the Winter School each participant will present their materials for 15 minutes and receive both an oral and written peer-review by another participant (and also give feedback on someone’s else work).

We invite your abstracts (250-300 words) on your current research (project) and reflections related to the theme outlined above. Presenters are encouraged to include a brief reflection on method in their papers. What are the scholarly traditions your work situates itself in? What is novel about your approach?


  • Register for the Winter School and submit your abstract by December 20 at the latest. You will receive a confirmation email.
  • Full papers (or proposals for those early in their PhDs) are due by January 18. Before submitting, please read through the theme outline and instructions above.