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On Display: Instagram, the Self, and the City

In "On Display," Boy and Uitermark explore how Instagram reflects our everyday lives and social interactions, offering a detailed look at how the platform influences our daily experiences.

John D. Boy and Justus Uitermark
27 October 2023
On Display (Oxford University Press)

About this book:

  • Develops a theory to understand social media as a stage for status displays rather than public spheres for the exchange of arguments
  • Provides intimate accounts of the dilemmas, anxieties, and desires that motivate what people consume and share on Instagram
  • Includes long-term qualitative research based in Amsterdam as well as computational analysis

What other people say about On Display

Crystal Abidin, author of Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures:
By drawing together granular stories of everyday life and extrapolating visual trends via computational data, Boy and Uitermark uncover how users navigate their social status, social lives, and social spaces, through the delicate inter-weaving of social ties on Instagram. On Display’s focus on Amsterdam on Instagram is central reading for understanding how digital life worlds, mediatized realities, and networked socio-geographies become integral for reflexive contradictions and productive tensions arising from life on the ‘gram.

Gillian Rose, author of The New Urban Aesthetic: Digital Experiences of Urban Change
In this groundbreaking study, Boy and Uitermark focus on Instagram as a mediator of everyday life. Their emphasis on the importance of social status in social media is especially productive, and so too are the connections they make to a specific urban context. All this makes the book essential reading for anyone interested in cities, digital media, and social life.

Sharon Zukin, author of The Innovation Complex: Cities, Tech, and the New Economy
Boy and Uitermark offer a remarkably innovative interrogation of Instagram’s everyday users that underlines the perplexing ambiguity of all visual, social media. Their nuanced interpretation reveals Instagram’s confounding capacity to enable both the competitive display of social status and the sincere performance of the authentic self. This book deserves our deep attention.

Alice Marwick, author of The Private is Political: Networked Privacy on Social Media
This fascinating book takes a snapshot of how Amsterdam is represented on Instagram to explore provocative questions of class, status, and hierarchy. Rather than functioning as a public square or fostering activism, Boy and Uitermark find that Instagram encourages feel-good aesthetics and conformity, privileging the viewpoints of the city's most privileged residents. Meticulously researched and full of lively accounts from a range of Instagram users, On Display asks us to consider how our social lives and very sense of self are impacted by the social platforms we use.


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