A Critical Appraisal of Diversity in Digital Knowledge Production: Segregated Inclusion of Knowledge Producers on Youtube

22 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Kaiping Chen

Kaiping Chen

University of Wisconsin-Madison

June Jeon

Tufts University

Yanxi Zhou

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: October 13, 2020


Diversity of knowledge production is a key challenge facing science communication. Despite extensive works showing how diversity has been undermined in offline science communication, little is known about whether social media can augment or hinder diversity for science communication. This paper addresses this gap by examining the profile and network diversities of knowledge producers on a popular social media platform — YouTube. We performed network analysis to study the citation behavior of these producers and conducted contents analysis on channel profiles. We found that intersectionally diverse profiles are presented in digital knowledge production. However, network among these knowledge producers reveals the rich- get-richer effect. At the intersection of profile and network diversities, we also found that most frequently cited “super connectors” tend to be YouTube channels connected to mainstream media, portrayed with male and race-neutral profiles who explicitly claim to educate science to public. These findings shed new light on the emerging pattern of juxtaposition of inclusiveness and segregation in online platforms, which we define as “segregated inclusion.” This segregated inclusion phenomenon further question how inequalities in science communication is replicated and amplified in relation to digital platforms.

Keywords: YouTube, Diversity, Digital Knowledge Production, Network, Profile, Segregated Inclusion

Suggested Citation

Chen, Kaiping and Jeon, June and Zhou, Yanxi, A Critical Appraisal of Diversity in Digital Knowledge Production: Segregated Inclusion of Knowledge Producers on Youtube (October 13, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3710873 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3710873

Kaiping Chen (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

1545 Observatory Drive
Hiram Smith Hall 316
Madison, WI Wisconsin 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kaipingchen.com

June Jeon

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Yanxi Zhou

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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