app studies intitiative

The App Studies Initiative (ASI) is an international collaboration to advance research into mobile apps at the universities of Toronto, Amsterdam, and Siegen. Comprised of researchers and PhD candidates in the field of media studies broadly conceived, it engages primarily with conceptual and methodological challenges associated with studying mobile apps as well as addressing their political, economic, and social significance. To this end, it also designs methods and tools that facilitate the critical and empirical study of apps and their environments.

The main project goal is to advance the field of app studies by designing and exploring the utility of inventive methods for critical and empirical studies of apps whilst attending to the technicity, political economy, history, and specific enactment of apps and their environments. In this project, we do not approach apps as standalone objects but instead as being situated in multiple ways, for example within app stores and diverse use and developer practices. We thus conceive of apps as specific articulations of their technicity (how they are designed, built, updated), economic conditions (how they are valued, monetized), social and cultural practices (how they are used, interpreted, imagined), data (what they collect, require), third parties (how they are re-interpreted, extended), and their politics (how they negotiate among stakeholders, interests). We consider how apps are co-constituted by the devices and technical infrastructures they operate on, the practices they elicit, the databases they connect to, and the developer networks that extend them. This innovative, interdisciplinary approach traverses boundaries between studies of platforms, software, and apps by drawing attention to their intricate relations, and situates app studies at the intersection between media studies and science and technology studies.

academic collaborations

The App Studies Initiative is collaborating with the following institutions and groups:

Faculty of Information / Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media
University of Toronto, Canada

Digital Methods Initiative / Dept. of Media Studies
University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Media of Cooperation” (DFG Collab. Res. Centre 1187)
University of Siegen, Germany

For a full list of members affiliated with the App Studies Initiative, please see


To get in touch, please see


The App Studies Initiative kindly acknowledges the financial support of our funding agencies, please see