Multi-situated app studies: methods and propositions

Dieter, Michael; Gerlitz, Carolin; Helmond, Anne; Tkacz, Nathaniel; van der Vlist, Fernando N. and Weltevrede, Esther. 2019. Multi-situated app studies: methods and propositions. Social Media + Society, 5(2), ISSN 2056-3051 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article discusses methodological approaches to app studies, focusing on their embeddedness and situatedness within multiple infrastructural settings. Our approach involves close attention to the multivalent affordances of apps as software packages, particularly their capacity to enter into diverse groupings and relations depending on different infrastructural situations. The changing situations they evoke and participate in, accordingly, make apps visible and accountable in a variety of unique ways. Therefore, engaging with and even staging these situations allows for political-economic, social, and cultural dynamics associated with apps and their infrastructures to be investigated through a style of research we describe as multi-situated app studies. This article offers an overview of four different entry points of enquiry that are exemplary of this multi-situated approach, focusing on app stores, app interfaces, app packages, and app connections. We conclude with nine propositions that develop out of these studies as prompts for further research.

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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Parts of this work were supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Grant DFG-SFB-1187; and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under Grant 275-45-009.


app studies, mobile apps, situatedness, app stores, software studies, infrastructure

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


6 June 2019Published Online
June 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2023 14:41

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2023 14:45

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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