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'Getting the truth': exploring the material grounds of institutional dynamics in social media


  • Scott, Susan V.
  • Orlikowski, Wanda J.


Our research focuses on the fast-changing landscape of contemporary social media (e.g., Facebook, TripAdvisor), where recent technological innovations have facilitated the interaction of large numbers of people across time and space. In contrast to more traditional forms of web usage that focus predominantly on relatively passive, one-way information flow, social media are characterized by dynamic, peer-to-peer interactions and multi-media, user-generated content. Also referred to as Web 2.0, these websites represent new forms of distributed, collective knowledge creation/sharing that defy easy characterization, prompting us to reconsider conventional views of technology. Drawing on Barad’s notion of “apparatus”, we consider the differences in knowledge produced by institutionalized hotel grading schemes such as the AA and VisitBritain on the one hand, and those of TripAdvisor’s dynamic sociomateriality (re)configures the standing of hotels in our study so that previously valued criteria lose their significance. We contrast the purposeful practice of travellers using TripAdvisor with the consternation among hoteliers who raises ethical issues of fairness and honesty. Far from being a neutral channel or passive mediator, the sociomateriality of TripAdvisor is integrally and actively part of knowledge production, creating difference that have wide reaching implications for the relationships between travellers and hoteliers.

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  • Scott, Susan V. & Orlikowski, Wanda J., 2009. "'Getting the truth': exploring the material grounds of institutional dynamics in social media," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 26699, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:26699

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. W. Richard Scott, 2003. "Institutional carriers: reviewing modes of transporting ideas over time and space and considering their consequences," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 879-894, August.
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    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13586 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jeacle, Ingrid & Carter, Chris, 2011. "In TripAdvisor we trust: Rankings, calculative regimes and abstract systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 293-309.

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    JEL classification:

    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General


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