AUTOMOBILE PLATFORM CAPITALISM: A VEHICULAR HISTORY OF THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
This presentation traces the relationship between Internet-based platform capitalism and Toyotist automobile manufacture. It argues that the auto industry and its managerial analysts play crucial roles in the development of platform theory and platform capitalism. While analyses of platform capitalism have tended to focus on the digital economy, this paper article highlights the continuities between digital platform capitalism and the manufacturing paradigms of the automobile industry, and the Toyota Production System as it developed in the 1960s in particular. This includes attention to the Japanese and American managerial theorizations of automobile manufacture that are the heartlands of platform capitalism. This genealogy impacts how we periodize the platform capitalism, and where we locate the emergence of platform theory. Ultimately it makes a case for thinking through the continuities of today’s digital platform capitalism and the commercial internet with what this talk will term automobile platform capitalism.