Production processes and technology
: the making of quality in the platform subtitling industry

  • Irene Artegiani

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis analyses production processes and the use of technology in the Audiovisual Translation (AVT) industry, aiming to document professional subtitling practices from different points of view in order to identify how the concept of quality is constructed in contemporary industry settings. The research intends to fill a gap in the qualitative study of real-life subtitling processes in the workplace, and to account for current industry practices that rely on the use of digital and cloud technologies, following new models of platform economy. The research is based on two phases of data collection. Study 1 was conducted in partnership with an AVT company which provided the researcher access to their work premises, thus ensuring that the contribution of the thesis reflects actual working practices. Study 2 consisted in semi structured interviews with a sample of freelance professional subtitlers, which ensured that their point of view as key players in the translation process was fully considered.
The research is grounded on constructivist theoretical premises and on the fundamental assumption that quality is a multifaceted concept. Thus, it seeks to overcome functionalist perceptions that see quality as an attribute that can be found and assessed solely in the product of translation. Instead, the thesis broadens and complexifies the concept of translation quality by looking into translation processes, products, environments, working conditions, and social actors. As a way to consider multiple quality aspects in the subtitling industry and their mutual influence, an ethnographic approach based on participant observation and interviews has been chosen (Study 1). The participant observation fieldwork examined various processes as carried out in a large AVT company, and extracted indicators that helped to explore the concept of process quality from a variety of perspectives. The interviews (Study 2) shed light on the subtitlers’ views and focused on their working conditions as indicators of the quality of their process and social environment. Reflecting on both studies 3 together and against each other, the thesis concludes that there is a clear need to rethink quality from novel perspectives in response to the rapid standardisation of practices that characterises contemporary subtitling production. Diversifying views on quality and audiovisual translation production can challenge the functionalist approach which has pervaded the industry, and has found new iterations under the cloud platform model, increasing unsustainability in the subtitling ecosystem.
Date of Award30 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SponsorsTECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Programme
SupervisorDionysios Kapsaskis (Director of Studies) & Andrew Walker (Co-Supervisor)


  • Audiovisual Translation
  • Translation Technology
  • Subtitling
  • Cloudplatform
  • Technology
  • Communication
  • Translation Industry

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