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Reconfiguring relations of accountability: materialization of social media in the travel sector

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Expanding use of Web 2.0 technologies has generated complex information dynamics that are propelling organizations in unexpected directions, redrawing boundaries and shifting relationships. Using research on user-generated content, we examine online rating and ranking mechanisms and analyze how their performance reconfigures relations of accountability. Our specific interest is in the use of so-called “social media” such as TripAdvisor, where participant reviews are used to rank the popularity of services provided by the travel sector. Although ranking mechanisms are not new, they become “power-charged”—to use Donna Haraway’s term—when enacted through Web 2.0 technologies. As such, they perform a substantial redistribution of accountability. We draw on data from an on-going field study of small businesses in a remote geographical area for whom TripAdvisor has changed ‘the rules of the game,’ and we explore the moral and strategic implication of this transformation.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/42264/

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