Constructing the Visual Online Political Self

Jamie Mahoney, Tom Feltwell, Obinna Ajuruchi, Shaun Lawson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

23 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an investigation of how the Scottish electorate utilised photo-sharing on social media as a means of participation in the democratic process and for political self-expression in the periods immediately prior to two recent major democratic votes: the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and the 2015 UK general election. We extend previous HCI literature on the growing use of social media in a political context and contribute specifically on understanding the emergent use of visual media by citizens when engaging with political issues and democratic process. Through a qualitative analysis of images shared on the platform Instagram, we demonstrate that the Scottish electorate did indeed used image-sharing for political self-expression -- posting a variety of visual content, representative of a diversity of political opinion. We conclude that users utilised Instagram as a platform to craft and present their "political selves". We raise questions for future research around power and inequality on such platforms as well as their capability of providing a persistent forum for debate.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2016
EventCHI 2016 - Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - San Jose, CA
Duration: 7 May 2016 → …


ConferenceCHI 2016 - Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Period7/05/16 → …


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