Alina Kontareva

Ph.d. candidate

Research Interests

Platform Economy, Digital Strategy, Internet, Technology & Society, Interpretative Qualitative Research Methods, Russia
My academic interests revolve around digital technologies and society. In my thesis, I examine the use of the internet for commercial purposes and how platform firms and markets operate. Because of my interdisciplinary background, I have developed an academic interest in research methodologies.

I have a background in STS and social anthropology. The theoretical background for my Ph.D. project comes from the emerging literature on platform firms, including the strategic management approach and network economics, international business literature, and political economy.

Ph.D. Project

Online platforms are a new type of firm; they are data-driven, software-based firms that intermediate between various parties. Over the last 15 years, the scope and scale of these online platform firms have expanded dramatically. Platforms have become central firms in capitalist economies that transform industries, employment, and discussions of public affairs. The most important of these are headquartered in only a few locations (the US and China) and, in fact, only a few countries have been able to build powerful domestic competitors. Currently, American platforms dominate most of the markets and what has been termed the "platform economy" in many nations, excluding China. This concentration results in the uneven global distribution of capital, power, and sources of cultural production and implies dependence on the Chinese and American platforms infrastructure.
In my dissertation, I study how platforms evolve outside of major economies. Using Russia's national internet segment as the empirical setting, I unfold several empirical and theoretical issues:

  1. I examine the role of a national environment in fostering a population of competitive platforms. Russia is a notable exception because it enabled domestically competitive platforms firms in key segments such as search, social media networking, e-commerce, and other services, that provide the foundation for Russia's platform economy.
  2. Based on the case study of Yandex, Russia's search engine and a Google competitor, I explore competitive strategies available for regional leaders when faced with global competitors.
  3. I analyze the evolving regulatory framework around platform firms and markets and demonstrate the choice of regulatory instruments that drive platform governance in Russia,


I hold an MA in Pedagogy (2009-2011) from Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia and an MA in Applied Linguistics (2011-2013) from European University at St. Petersburg. As a Skolkovo Foundation Fellow, I completed a Science and Technology Studies program at European University at St. Petersburg (2011-2013).

From 2013-2016 I was affiliated with the Center for Science and Technology Studies, European University at St. Petersburg, where I was conducting research within the Federal mega-grant project "Russian Computer Scientists at home and abroad," focused on professional trajectories of the Russian ICT specialist. More on the project:

I was a Fulbright Visiting Graduate Student (2017) and visiting researcher (2014) at the Department of Human Ecology, Community, and Regional Development at the University of California, Davis.

I had a few side projects. As a Fulbright researcher (2017), Alina collaborated with the ModLab on a project to code audio and visual data from short films made by users of Play the Knave—a 3D motion-sensing game about Shakespeare performance. Also, I initiated and led the #Museum Project, which analyzed museum attendance using 80K Instagram photos, computational methods, and large-scale visualizations. 

Since 2017, I have been engaged in developing a new MA program in STS and Innovation Studies for Tomsk State University, Russia, where I taught research design and qualitative methods for graduate students. In 2021, I co-edited a book on qualitative research methods in technology, innovation, and society (in Russian).

Since 2018, I have been working on a Ph.D. thesis at TIK. In June 2021, I organized a workshop for young researchers working in Norwegian universities and research centers, "Platform Studies: The Emerging Research Field in Norway."

Recently, I received a pre-doctoral dissertation fellowship grant at the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From January till June 2022, I will be working in Madison and examining the effect of platforms on employment in Russia.   


"Research and Design Seminar" (TIK4040), seminar leader.

"Platforms, Ecosystems, and the Digital Economy," guest lecturer for TIK4021 ("Innovation and global challenges").

"Research Design and Qualitative Methods," lecturer, graduate program, Center for Policy Analysis and Studies of Technology, Tomsk State University, Russia.

Tags: Innovation, Platforms, Platform Economy, Internet, Russia, Qualitative Methods

Selected publications

2021 Zvonareva O., Kontareva A., & Popova E. (Eds.). Novoe Vremja, Novoe Pole: Menjajushhijsja Mir Kachestvennyh Issledovanij i Novye Tehnologii [New Era, New Fieldwork: The Changing Landscape of Qualitative Research and New Technologies]. Aleteya. (in Russian)
2021 Godovannaya M., & Kontareva, A. «Bez-Granic-Kvir»: Dialog ob Art-Issledovanijah i Eksperimantal’nom Kino [“Countryless and Queer”: Dialogue on Art Research and Experimental Cinema]. In Zvonareva O., Kontareva A., & Popova E. (Eds.). Novoe Vremja, Novoe Pole: Menjajushhijsja Mir Kachestvennyh Issledovanij i Novye Tehnologii [New Era, New Fieldwork: The Changing Landscape of Qualitative Research and New Technologies]. Aleteya. (in Russian)
2021    Kontareva A., Rudenko N., & Ryzhakov N. Picturing the Hermitage: The Museum Visit through the Use of Social Media. In Lapina-Kratasyuk, E., Zaporozhets, O., & Vozyanov, A. (Eds.). Urban Networks. People. Technologies. Governance. New Literary Review. 398-426. (in Russian)
2021    Kontareva A. Platforms as Markets, Architectures, and Ecosystems:
A Review of the Dominant Approaches in the Platform Literature. Sociology of Power,
33 (1), 169-192. (in Russian)
2019    Kontareva A., Masalskaya A, & Zemnukhova L. Lokal'noe Vremia Mirovogo IT: o Vospriiatii Vremeni Russkimi Programmistami v Rossii i za Rubezhom [Local Time of the Global IT: The Time Perception of Russian Software Developers at Home and Abroad]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3, 62-79. (in Russian)

2019    Kontareva A. Kazan Connected. ”IT-ing Up” a Province. In Biagioli, M., & Lépinay, V. A. (Eds.). From Russia with Code: Programming Migrations in Post-Soviet Times. Duke University Press. (in English)


Published Jan. 12, 2018 1:51 PM - Last modified Aug. 8, 2022 11:14 AM