The family snapshot: parental representations of family and children on instagram

Le Moignan, Effie (2018) The family snapshot: parental representations of family and children on instagram. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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This thesis addresses parental identity and the family snapshot in the age of social media, through uses of Instagram. Tracing the socio-historical development of the family snapshot and its visual tropes, the thesis highlights that family photography has never been an endeavour to record a full, accurate record of family life. Instead it represents a complex social artefact embodying understandings regarding socially desirable depictions of parenting, familial harmony and childhood. This work situates these characteristics as representing inherited social knowledge which shape domestic photographic practice. Over 3 phases of work, visual representation of family life on Instagram is investigated. Using qualitative methods, a comparative approach is taken in considering divergence and retention of analogue characteristics. The first phase of work suggests that Instagram sharing has not fundamentally reimagined the family snapshot from its previous format in family photo albums. Images retain the key tropes of positive representation, omission of negative imagery, and depiction of familial harmony that were present in family photo albums. The second phase of work, through an ethnographic study of 20 successful Instagram accounts of mothers, focuses upon family images as part of long-term maternal narrative building. The reported findings present evidence of mothers visually documenting labour in carrying out Hays (1996) ideology of intensive motherhood. However, this is presented as part of highly aesthetically-driven lifestyle imagery. In the third phase of work, the thesis reports a further secondary analysis of the ethnographic data, drawing upon Belk’s (1988) conceptualisation of possessions as pivotal to an extended sense of self. This exploratory work poses that family snapshots contribute significantly towards understandings of contemporary online maternal identity, moving forward sociocultural discourses on family photography and representation. The thesis makes a number of contributions, deepening understanding of the mediating role of digital photography in online maternal self-expression and family representation; developing a deeper understanding of the role of family snapshots as a social artefact; and demonstrating the viability of developing comparative analysis from literature to interrogate snapshot imagery on social media. The thesis work also holds implications for the development of policy around communication strategies for engaging with new mothers, and concludes with discussion of future possibilities for further visual analysis of Instagram communities

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social media, Human-computer interaction (HCI), Digital parenthood, Family photography, Visual sociology
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
P300 Media studies
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2020 15:44
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 19:50

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