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Studying values about childhood using networked photography on Instagram

Authors
  • Benevento, Ayşenur
Type
Published Article
Journal
Semiotica
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Apr 25, 2022
Volume
2022
Issue
246
Pages
19–47
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/sem-2021-0056
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This study examines adults’ postings of photos of children on social media and offers a unique methodological approach to studying visual data. A major innovation of this study is first, to enact the concept and method of narrative inquiry to the digital photographs. Having applied this method, the study also offers findings about the diverse values that emerge across two specific digital parenting cultures organized via Instagram hashtags of #fashionkids and #letthekids. Values analysis of 500 photographs (250 photos from each hashtag culture) indicated that these hashtags constitute cultures defined by distinct values of ideal childhoods. While #fashionkids photos emphasized children’s attendance to the photo making activity with stress to their possessions, #letthekids photos expressed mixed values of freedom and domestic happenings with a strong emphasis on unawareness of the photographing and togetherness. While the qualities of childhood images collected in the same period hint at meaningful patterns, the way those qualities interact with each other in distinct cultures suggest that there is not one ideal image that could represent childhood in the best possible way and the photographers’ values very much influence the visual sense-making of what’s being portrayed in children’s photographs.

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