Instagram and female celebrity: exploring gender performances through social visual semiotics, feminist theory, and framing analysis

Instagram and female celebrity: exploring gender performances through social visual semiotics, feminist theory, and framing analysis
By Jill Kolb - 2014

With the advent of social media, and specifically Instagram, individuals now have the ability to instantly communicate their moods, thoughts, and ideas through personally created visual messages. Instagram is designed to communicate ideas through self- generated digital images uploaded to the platform and network in real time from mobile devices, especially smartphones. This has had an impact on what is accepted as important media content, with fans, publics, and popular culture having a seemingly insatiable appetite for the personal details proffered by celebrities’ online profiles (Marwick & Boyd, 2011). These images are redefining our understanding of celebrity, reformatting fans’ expectations of reality, and helping to define emerging modes of subjectivity in a world dominated and increasingly defined by social media networks.

This Masters of Professional Communication Major Research Project examines how social media networks are changing the way female celebrities portray themselves to the public and how these digital platforms are assisting in the cultivation of celebrity personas. Informed by social visual semiotics, postmodern feminist theory, and framing analysis this research project will analyze: 1) the Instagram accounts of three prominent female celebrities: Ellie Goulding, Kat Dennings, and Beyonce; 2) how these celebrities’ self-portrayal assists in their ability to create an accessible persona for their fans; and 3) what these prominent female celebrities’ social media performances reveal about female empowerment and self-representation in our social media saturated era.