Date of Submission

Spring 2021

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Laura Ford

Project Advisor 2

Rachel Cavell

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This paper examines sociological dimensions of the social media application Instagram on how individuals experience their public and private spaces. Social media applications have drastically changed how individuals are able to socialize and connect with one another. The root of this change is located within how social media “users” are able to interact with their public and private realms. I argue that social media, specifically Instagram, has fundamentally changed how we are able to negotiate and understand the difference between what is considered public and what is considered. This increased social choosing power manifests itself as “networked individualism” which allows Instagram users to expand their social webs through the act of sharing things with the public that were previously not possible. Social benefits from using Instagram are derived from creating “posts” and are received through “mechanisms of validation” which validate a user's identity. This usage of these mechanisms leads to the “cycle of transference”: a process which commodifies users private identity into a bargaining chip that can be traded in for increased access to the “networked public” Instagram provides. From this commodification an “erosion of difference” occurs as the need to consistently post on Instagram pushes users to have increasingly flexible understandings of the distinction between public and private.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

This work is protected by a Creative Commons license. Any use not permitted under that license is prohibited.

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