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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Unbundling and Reassembling Knowledge Production – the Role of Social Media Platforms

Political Economy
Social Media
Higher Education
Janja Komljenovic
University of Lancaster
Janja Komljenovic
University of Lancaster

This Paper is focusing on social media and the kind of knowledge that they produce, disseminate and broker among particular publics. Empirically it is using the case of LinkedIn, a USA-based company that provides professional networking opportunities for individual and institutional users. LinkedIn can be seen as many things at the same time: a service commodity for users who pay subscription fees; a marketplace for labour markets; opportunities for actors' actions towards expanding, instituting and embedding countless other markets; the extraction of data that is repackaged into commodities and sold; or a means for governing particular sectors (through university or employers’ rankings). LinkedIn’s core business nevertheless seems to be the global labour market, and LinkedIn’s activities and expansion in other directions are also feeding into, and drawing from, this marketplace. Because universities issue qualifications and are, in this respect, important certifiers of employment-related skills along with reputation, the higher education sector becomes a key part of LinkedIn’s story, whilst LinkedIn also becomes a key part of the networks and career trajectory of individual subscribers. In fact, in the past few years LinkedIn has targeted higher education specifically by introducing services for students and universities. Moreover, it has become a provider of education itself though acquiring Lynda, an online education provider with more than 20 year tradition. This Paper is going to explore what kind of knowledge practices is LinkedIn trying to create and promote, how is it disrupting the established higher education sector, and what are the possible consequences for universities as well as for the governance of higher education more broadly.
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