Massimo Airoldi

Massimo Airoldi
University of Milan | UNIMI · Department of Social and Political Sciences

PhD in Sociology and Methodology

About

25
Publications
21,515
Reads
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228
Citations
Introduction
Sociologist interested in computational methods, social media platforms, digital consumer culture, symbolic boundaries, taste, machine learning. Author of "Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms" (Polity, 2021)
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - July 2017
University of Milan
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
January 2014 - July 2017
University of Milan
Field of study
  • Sociology and Methodology

Publications

Publications (25)
Article
Full-text available
Recent work on digital political engagement has extensively shown that social media platforms enhance political participation and collective action. However, the idea that citizen voice through social media can give rise, under given conditions, to a specific digital force combining properties of social movements and public opinion has received les...
Article
Full-text available
With the increasing digitalization and datafication of consumption brought by platforms such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify, digital traces of taste are constantly generated as by-products of consumers' everyday communications and activities. However, these data have not been fully exploited in the cross-disciplinary study of taste phenomena. This...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research argues that digital platforms contribute to the long-lasting erosion of genre boundaries and established cultural classifications in the “heads and habits” of art consumers (DiMaggio 1987). This paper draws on large volumes of YouTube data to illustrate how, on the contrary, cultural boundaries are techno-socially reproduced online,...
Book
Full-text available
We commonly think of society as made of and by humans, but with the proliferation of machine learning and AI technologies, this is clearly no longer the case. Billions of automated systems tacitly contribute to the social construction of reality by drawing algorithmic distinctions between the visible and the invisible, the relevant and the irreleva...
Article
Full-text available
This article conceptualizes algorithmic consumer culture, and offers a framework that sheds new light on two previously conflicting theorizations: that (1) digitalization tends to liquefy consumer culture and thus acts primarily as an empowering force, and that (2) digitalized marketing and big data surveillance practices tend to deprive consumers...
Article
Full-text available
The coronavirus pandemic, social distancing, and lockdown measures have had an impact on employee well-being. This study uses Latent Profile Analysis to examine subjective well-being among employees during the first lockdown based on a cross-national survey in UK and France ( n = 652). We identify five distinct well-being profiles, namely Moderatel...
Article
The last decade has seen a proliferation of journalistic reportages, monographies and academic papers analyzing algorithmic systems and artificial intelligence from a critical perspective. This article reviews four books published in 2018, not yet translated in Italian. They all share the same topic, that is, the socio-political implications of int...
Article
Full-text available
Sharing the “historicist challenge to analytic philosophy” (Glock 2006) we investigate the philosophical production (and, to a lesser extent, some non-philosophical works as well) on Ludwig Wittgenstein from a distant reading perspective. First, we provide a description of the “Wittgensteinian field” by analyzing several data provided by the Philos...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Machine learning applications and AI technologies filter, order and, ultimately, constitute everyday consumer experiences, as a sort of “technological unconscious” (Beer, 2009). As a result, it is worth asking if what we eat for dinner has become less a matter of our choice and more the computational result of platforms’ “production of prediction”...
Article
Full-text available
From the recommendation of cultural content to the identification of potential criminals, a growing number of activities are ordinarily delegated to algorithms and AI systems. These are narrated as neutral technologies which make complex processes more efficient and lead to objective results. However, a wide literature argues that algorithms are so...
Article
Full-text available
The outbreak of «Big Data» has triggered a widespread debate about their potential use as substitute of more traditional methodologies like surveys. Despite this outward dichotomy, recent methodological innovations open the field to potential integration between the two. This integration can concern either the survey design stage (explorative integ...
Article
Full-text available
Qualitative researchers struggle to study the transient fields of social network sites like Twitter through conventional ethnographic approaches. This paper suggests that, in order to step further, we should distinguish between the relatively stable ‘contextual’ fields of bounded online communities and the fluid, ‘meta-fields’ resulting from the ag...
Chapter
Full-text available
Provando a non scivolare sul terreno del determinismo tecnologico, questo capitolo intende riflettere intorno all’idea di cultura algoritmica. Da un lato, descriverà come precisi assunti culturali sono veicolati dalla “banalità” del codice e dei discorsi intorno ad esso; dall’altro, guarderà all’influenza del codice sulla cultura, soffermandosi sul...
Chapter
Full-text available
Cosa si intende per dati online? Che caratteristiche hanno gli ambienti socio-tecnologici dove questi dati vengono generati a partire dalle pratiche e comunicazioni degli utenti? Infine, che tipo di conoscenza sui fenomeni politici e sociali è possibile produrre a partire dalle “tracce digitali” disponibili in Rete? Queste domande guideranno le pag...
Thesis
Full-text available
This work explores the social uses and social roots of musical taste in contemporary Italy. For the first time, large amounts of online data, retrieved from digital platform YouTube, have been exploited for this purpose, in the broader context of a mixed-method research design. Following an inductive methodological approach, the present study shows...
Chapter
Full-text available
Il processo di digitalizzazione della realtà che ci circonda non poteva lasciare indifferenti le metodologie delle scienze psicosociali. Dato che le informazioni immagazzinate in Rete e sui social media restituiscono una rappresentazione sempre più fedele delle nostre identità e reti sociali, così come dei nostri gusti, desideri e persino spostamen...
Article
Full-text available
In contemporary hyper-connected societies, a peculiar paradox characterizes the collective representations gravitating in the social imaginary. On the one side, they rapidly spread and evolve through communication on social media; on the other side, they are objectified in the form of digital data organized in textual databases, persistent and sear...
Article
This article presents an exploratory study of the network of associations among 22,141 YouTube music videos retrieved by ‘following’ the platform’s recommender algorithm, which automatically suggests a list of ‘related videos’ to the user in response to the video currently being viewed. As YouTube’s recommendations are predominantly based on users’...
Article
Full-text available
This article consists in a case study analysing three Italian digital newsrooms. The research investigates the ways in which editors in chief and newsrooms use Twitter. The journalistic use of Twitter has been the object of a growing number of researches in several national contexts. Their results are hardly generalizable and largely context-depend...
Article
Full-text available
Recommender systems are a widespread type of online algorithm, which suggests personalised contents to “digital consumers”. By automatically creating links between items – such as Amazon products, TV series on Netflix, music artists on Spotify – recommender systems co-construct today’s social imaginary. They contribute to shape pop cultures’ “webs...
Article
Full-text available
This paper addresses crowd-based dynamics of value creation in participatory culture. Based on a corpus of 114,931 tweets associated with One Direction and similar boy bands, we draw on recent theories of crowd-based organization in digital media as well as classical crowd theory to build a theoretical model of collective value creation. In our mod...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
This project includes research contributing to the methodological advancement of a data-driven and theory-oriented digital sociology. Contributions address the challenges and opportunities of digital traces for social research in the age of black-boxed algorithms, platforms and computational methods.
Project
Developing a novel sociological perspective on algorithms and AI technologies aimed to illuminate their non-neutral character, cultural roots and social implications. Exploring and theorizing the culture in the code - i.e. how social biases and cultural assumptions are inscribed in algorithmic models - as well as the code in the culture - i.e. how algorithms affect human life and society, both as technologies and as powerful discourses.
Project
The new social media-based digital environment for political communication and public opinion seems to have revived, at least under specific conditions (typically characterized by some external shock generating a collective emotional reaction), the classical sociological idea of the public as a collective force. Hence our ongoing research on "digital movements of opinion" (DMOs).