On SAGE Insight: Isomorphism through algorithms: Institutional dependencies in the case of Facebook

From Big Data & Society

Concerns about the impact of data-driven intermediaries on the news media industry have been growing steadily over the last several years. Major social media and information companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter play a central role in what news and information people consume.

This paper examines how algorithms and data-driven technologies, enacted by an organization like Facebook, can induce similarity across an industry, it traces the bureaucratic roots of Big Data and algorithms to examine the institutional dependencies that emerge and are mediated through data-driven and algorithmic logics. This type of analysis sheds light on how organizational contexts are embedded into algorithms, which can then become embedded within other organizational and individual practices.

More research is needed to understand how the interplay between organizations in the news ecosystem are influencing each other and being implemented through code. Increasing oversight or accountability into how an industry has been shaped by a dominant organization is incredibly complex, and entails a system-wide analysis of how organizational incentives, built into algorithms, both operate as a constraint across a field, and are themselves constrained by larger macro-sociological trends.

Abstract

Algorithms and data-driven technologies are increasingly being embraced by a variety of different sectors and institutions. This paper examines how algorithms and data-driven technologies, enacted by an organization like Facebook, can induce similarity across an industry. Using theories from organizational sociology and neoinstitutionalism, this paper traces the bureaucratic roots of Big Data and algorithms to examine the institutional dependencies that emerge and are mediated through data-driven and algorithmic logics. This type of analysis sheds light on how organizational contexts are embedded into algorithms, which can then become embedded within other organizational and individual practices. By investigating technical practices as organizational and bureaucratic, discussions about accountability and decision-making can be reframed.

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Article details    
Isomorphism through algorithms: Institutional dependencies in the case of Facebook
Robyn Caplan, danah boyd, Robyn Caplan, …
First Published February 14, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/2053951718757253
From Big Data & Society

 

 

     
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