The Construction of Platform Imperialism in the Globalization Era

  • Dal Yong Jin Simon Fraser University
Keywords: Platform, Globalization, Imperialism, Nation-State, Social Network Sites, Intellectual Property, Facebook, Google, Smartphones


In the early 21st century, platforms, known as digital media intermediaries, have greatly influenced people’s daily lives. Due to the importance of platforms for the digital economy and culture, including intellectual property and participatory culture, several countries have developed their own social network sites and Web portals. Nonetheless, a handful of Western countries, primarily the U.S., have dominated the global platform market and society. This paper aims to historicize the concept of imperialism in the globalized 21st century. It investigates whether the recent growth of American-based platforms has resulted in a change to the fundamental idea of the imperialism thesis by analyzing the evolutionary nature of imperialism towards platform imperialism. It then addresses whether we are experiencing a new notion of imperialism by mapping out several core characteristics that define platform imperialism, including the swift growth and global dominance of SNSs and smartphones. It pays close attention to the capitalization of platforms and their global expansion, including the major role of intellectual property rights as the most significant form of capital accumulation in the digital age. It eventually endeavors to make a contribution to the platform imperialism discourse as a form of new imperialism, focusing on the nexus of great powers.

Author Biography

Dal Yong Jin, Simon Fraser University
Dal Yong Jin finished his Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has taught in several institutions, including the University of Illinois in Chicago, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and Simon Fraser University. His major research and teaching interests are on globalization and media, new media and online gaming studies, transnational cultural studies, and the political economy of media and culture. He is the author of two books entitled Korea’s Online Gaming Empire (MIT Press, 2010) and Hands On/Hands Off: The Korean State and the Market Liberalization of the Communication Industry (Hampton Press, 2011). Jin also edited two books and a journal special issue, including The Political Economies of Media (Bloomsbury, 2011), and Global Media Convergence and Cultural Transformation (IGI Global, 2011). In addition, he has published about 40 journal articles and book chapters in several scholarly journals and books, including Media, Culture and Society, Games and Culture, Telecommunications Policy, Television and New Media, International Communication Gazette, Continuum, Information Communication and Society, and Javnost-the Public. He is currently analyzing the shifting media business paradigm, from convergence to de-convergence, in the communication industries, including both audiovisual and telecommunications. Meanwhile, he is writing a book about intellectual history of political economy in North America, which will be the result of SSHRC-funded research.