The power implications of the shift to customer reviews: A field perspective on jobbing platforms operating in France

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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Date
2023-08
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
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Organization Studies
Abstract
Customer reviews are a new type of third-party evaluation that has transformed how power operates over evaluated producers, and in so doing has attracted scholarly attention. However, this literature rarely addresses the power relationships operating between platforms collecting and aggregating these reviews. We address this blind spot by relying on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of fields, which we use to highlight that the reaction of producers to traditional third-party evaluations depend on, and reproduce, the domination of an evaluation intermediary over its competitors. Our qualitative study of the field of jobbing platforms in France reveals that producers react to customer reviews only on platforms accumulating relatively better stocks of reviews, in a self-reinforcing manner. Managers of platforms with smaller stocks of reviews resist by sheltering jobbers from reviews. Our study re-introduces field-level power dynamics between platforms to research exploring the forms of power that operate on producers subjected to reviews. It adds to studies of evaluation intermediaries by specifying that the accumulation of reviews underpins the power relationships between intermediaries in the customer review era and by identifying sheltering as a new form of resistance. Finally, it updates Bourdieu’s theory for the digital age by explaining that individuals’ accumulation of capital online relates to inter-organisational power dynamics.
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Keywords
algorithms, domination, evolution, gig economy, online platforms, power, reactivity, resistance, customer reviews
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Citation
Barbe , A S , Gond , J-P & Hussler , C 2023 , ' The power implications of the shift to customer reviews: A field perspective on jobbing platforms operating in France ' , Organization Studies , vol. 44 , no. 8 , pp. 1309-1331 . https://doi.org/10.1177/01708406221145611