Special Issue: TikTok and the platformisation from China

November 2023 – A special issue for the journal Media, Culture and Society edited together with Lin Jian. In this special issue, we explore the geopolitics, aesthetics and future potentiality surrounding TikTok to assess the possibility and implications of a new phase of digital globalisation. A phase in which China-based innovative platform technologies, infused with state power, generate and potentially disrupt digital cultures in places outside China. We will further explore this in the next part of this introduction, showing how the global rise of TikTok is feeding into increasing geopolitical anxieties worldwide. At the same time, we argue for the need to diversify our approaches to TikTok and platform studies – the latter field is very much dominated by questions around production, monetisation, data and political economy. More approaches, focusing on aesthetics, visual culture and users, are needed. In the second part of this introduction, we mobilise the notion of repetitive creativities as a way to engage with the aesthetic affordances of TikTok. This brings us to our conclusion, in which we allude to the possibility that TikTok can be seen as a kind of silly archive, offering glimpses of a future that is not yet here, but that may well come.

You can find the introduction to the special issue here.