Trends and Perspectives on Digital Platforms and Digital Television in Europe| Denaturalizing Digital Platforms: Is Mass Individualization Here to Stay?

Robin Mansell, W. Edward Steinmueller


This article examines the consistency of mass individualization or personalization techniques used by digital platforms with the imaginaries and logics of neoclassical economic theory and behavioral economics. We identify limitations of contemporary policy and regulatory responses to harms associated with datafication practices. We argue that more attention needs to be given to denaturalizing claims that enhancements of mass individualization techniques are a “natural” outcome of digital technology innovation and market dynamics. To avoid harms associated with datafication and to secure public values, it is essential to imagine a future digital world that is not dependent on massive collection of individuals’ data for commercial or public ends. This might require the blocking of some applications before, rather than after, they have been deployed. Doing so will require broad agreement that mass individualization techniques are inconsistent with valuing human autonomy and effective individual choice in Western societies. Skepticism about policy intervention in the platform market is answered by examining how surprising opportunities for change may arise from contestations of current applications of these technologies.


digital platform, innovation, personalization, mass individualization, competition policy, regulation

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