Digital Platforms and Agency

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Lateral: A Journal of the Cultural Studies Association

Read full call here:


How do digital platforms shape our agency, and how do we shape digital platforms in turn? What is the role of digital platforms in forming our social, cultural, and political practices?  How and whom do digital platforms (dis)empower? This special section of Lateral invites scholars from diverse fields to advance critical cultural inquiry at the convergence of platforms and agency on digital, networked, and/or new media. 

A digital platform is a standard which facilitates computational interactions between users and systems, according to Ian Bogost. Ubiquitous but self-effacing, platforms increasingly mediate the constitution and expression of consciousness. Troubling clean divisors between humanity and technology, platforms pose a challenge to monolithic, individuated, and humanist notions of agency that the field of cultural studies is uniquely poised to address. 

Thus, this section calls for scholars to attend to the ways in which platforms differentially amplify, accelerate, diminish, and subvert the agency of users, systems, and communities. We see this work following Beth Coleman’s characterization of networked agency as “the disruptive technology of our time” which troubles clean divisors between human/nonhuman, virtual/actual, and individual/system. This section will deepen Coleman’s provocation by demystifying discrepancies of access, leverage, and capacity that characterize the emergence of platforms within our stratified political system. 

We seek a diverse collection of essays that reflect the interdisciplinarity of cultural studies and platform studies. We encourage submissions from myriad traditions and approaches including media studies, political economy, performance studies, communication, composition, science and technology studies, gender studies, sociology, computer science, and more. 

Contributions to this section may, for instance: 

  • Evaluate the entanglement of platform cultures within the politics of representation and regimes of symbolic violence
  • Critique structures of power on/of platforms, such as anti-Blackness and digital colonialism, which inhibit and afford agency
  • Reveal the ramifications of platform capitalism, mediated labor relations, and the development and/or subversion of political consciousness
  • Develop posthuman challenges to agency by scrutinizing the impact of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence
  • Trace the political ramifications of digital platforms and agency at play: video games, streaming, and/or social media
  • Compare imaginations and practices of algorithmic governance
  • Interrogate datafication as a constraint against or catalyst of networked subjectivities

Please send all submissions and inquiries to Potential authors should submit a 500-word abstract by June 30, 2023 to Platforms and Agency co-editors Elaine Venter and Reed Van Schenck to be considered for publication. Abstracts will be reviewed by the editors by August 30, 2023. Final submissions for publication of 5,000–9,000 words expected by March 1, 2024. All submissions will undergo a double-anonymous peer review process according to journal policies.