Platform Economies: Beyond the North-South Divide

Platform economies are depicted as the foundation for a new era of economic production. This transpires through the incorporation of digital technologies and algorithmic operations into the heart of economic and financial practices. However, different assumptions are made about the effects of digital platforms depending on geographical location. While digital platforms are approached as inherent to processes of financialization globally, they are reduced to processes of financial inclusion when referencing the ‘Global South’. Analyses of financialization as a one-way-vector – Global North to Global South – overlook the variability, the limits, and responses to financialization. In contrast, a focus on market devices illustrates the specificities of value creation. An example of this is ‘the float’, a form of financial value generated by mobile telecommunication operators, mobile money issuers, and commercial banks in Africa. Through this lens, we see instances of both value subjugation and autonomization, evidence that the fault lines of value production generated by ambiguous market devices are obscured by the Global North/Global South frame.

Janet Roitman is Professor at RMIT University. She is founder-director of The Platform Economies Research Network (PERN) and Associate Member of the Centre for Automated Decision-making and Society (ADM+S).  Her research focuses on financial practices and the anthropology of value. Her current work is on the role of digital technologies in emergent financial ecosystems.  She is the author of Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa (Princetion University Press) and Anti-Crisis (Duke University Press). She sits on the editorial boards of The Journal of Cultural Economy, Cultural Anthropology, Finance & Society, and Platforms & Society. Prior to joining RMIT, Janet was a University Professor at The New School, New York and an instructor at Sciences-po, Paris. Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Public Knowledge, and US The National Science Foundation.  

Date & time

Mon 20 May 2024, 3–4pm


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building


Janet Roitman


Trang Ta


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