Publication: Conceptualising variety in platform capitalism

Foster, C.G. 2022. Conceptualising variety in platform capitalism: Examining the drivers and tensions in Thai E-commerce platforms. Paper presented at the Global Conference on Economic Geography, June
[Paper in progress]

Abstract

Digital platforms are expanding globally with significant implications for how economies operate. We argue that the literature has tended to over-emphasis the globalised, homogeneous and all-powerful nature of these resources with less analysis of variable patterns of engagement, and agency across space. Two notions are employed from economic geography to conceptualise variety, namely embeddedness and variegated capitalism. These conceptualisations provide insights into the nature of variation related to economic exchange and institutional dynamics.

Drawing on the case of E-commerce platform markets in Thailand, we examine how this case aligns with conceptualisations of variety, highlighting patterns of macro-regional expansion, national capitalist systems, state regulation and retail markets that orientate how platform markets operate. This analysis highlights further considerations in the conceptualisation of variety in platforms which are an outcome of political economy, technical rules and local economic norms. This analysis of variety highlights the potential for identifying sources of tensions between key actors and is important to consider agency and regulation in platform capitalism