Performing Instagram photography and the disciplining gaze

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


This paper approach participation in visual promotional strategies as a novel form of public performance. The paper examines the social rules and conventions of photography practices on visual social media platforms in a qualitative study of how 30 participants in so-called Instagram takeovers make sense of and perform photography as an embodied visual practice situated in time and space.
A dramaturgical perspective (Goffman, 1959) is adopted to understand how the participants perform and make sense of photography. The concept of gaze (Urry, 1990) is introduced in order to analyse and discuss social conventions and norms that guide the performances and have consequences for the photographs taken.
The findings of the study point to the tensions between different gazes and how they discipline participants’ imaginations. Hence, the inclusion of social media in communication strategies does not necessarily reinvigorate images of the place or the organisation, since conventional gazes govern photography practice on social media. The study elucidates how a visual practice is socially constrained, which results in that only certain aspects are made visible and regarded as photo worthy, while others remain unseen.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Communication Studies


  • photography, performativity, gaze, disciplinary power, Instagram, Instagram take-over
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
EventThe 69th Conference of the International Communication Association: Communication beyond boundaries - Helsingborg, United States
Duration: 2019 May 242019 May 28


ConferenceThe 69th Conference of the International Communication Association
CountryUnited States