(Re-)Appropriating Instagram for Social Research: Three Methods for Studying Obesogenic Environments
Proceedings of SMSociety '16, July 11 - 13, 2016, London, United Kingdom
10 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2016
Date Written: July 12, 2016
The paper discusses three ways of appropriating Instagram for social research through the case of obesity. We draw on the notion obesogenic environments, in which obesity is understood as related to a wide range of cultural, social and physical factors. Together with a group of obesity researchers and cultural analysts we explored a dataset of 82,449 Instagram posts tagged with location from the five most and the five least overweight local authorities in the UK. The geo-located posts were studied through three distinct approaches to the data; each drawing on their own set of interdependent conceptualizations of what constitutes obesogenic environments, Instagram and cultural analysis respectively. The first approach values Instagram as a repository of images that can be coded and counted; while the second asks about the everyday practices of Instagram users. In a third approach we view Instagram itself as an analytical tool that produces a media-specific version of phenomena such as obesity. Following this third appropriation, we conclude that to unlock Instagram’s potential for social research it must be considered as more than a collection of user-tagged images, but as an analytical context in its own right.
Keywords: Instagram, social media, obesity, obesogenic environment, cultural analysis, data sprint, geolocated social media data
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