Captured and Captioned: Representing Family Lives on Instagram

Academics

Dr Signe Ravn, Dr Ashley Barnwell, and Dr Barbara Barbosa Neves
School of Social and Political Sciences

Intern

Ms Fangyi Lu
School of Culture and Communications

Project

The project explores different family representations on Instagram, through a qualitative study of a purposive sample of posts (images and text) related to family relationships and moments. Data includes hashtags associated with family, generations and memories. One hundred and fifty posts were collected which included public images and user-data, text, and comments. The researchers have identified some coding and ethical issues that have halted the project.

Internship Outcome

This project posed two-folded challenges from both the coding process and the human ethics. The expanding of data set was achieved efficiently through a metadata extracting tool (special thanks to Dr. Mitchell Harrop from SCIP!) and a familiarity with Instagram and hashtag mining. Special attention was paid to steps involving human participants, such as conversations via an academic Instagram account specially set for this project, to observe research ethics and to care for human sentimentality. Other unforeseeable factors include the transient nature of online environment (deleting and reposting, changing user names, Instagram changing its layout, etc.) and the unpredictability of potential participants (some accounts are set to not show messages from strangers, some ignore messages from strangers). The outcome includes: a data set with 200 units (with screenshots of photos named as their unique identifier), 50/200 permission to image re-use, 3/11 answers via Instagram interview and Survey Monkey.