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How do people represent the city on social media? And how do these representations feed back into people's uses of the city? To answer these questions, we develop a relational approach that relies on a combination of qualitative methods and network analysis. Based on in-depth interviews and a dataset of over 400 000 geotagged Instagram posts from Amsterdam, we analyse how the city is reassembled on and through the platform. By selectively drawing on the city, users of the platform elevate exclusive and avant-garde establishments and events, which come to stand out as hot spots, while rendering mundane and low-status places invisible. We find that Instagram provides a space for the segmentation of users into subcultural groups that mobilise the city in varied ways. Social media practices, our findings suggest, feed on as well as perpetuate socio-spatial inequalities.
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Reassembling the city through Instagram
John D Boy and Justus Uitermark
How do people represent the city on social media? And how do these representations feed back into peoples uses
of the city? To answer these questions, we develop a relational approach that relies on a combination of qualitative
methods and network analysis. Based on in-depth interviews and a dataset of over 400 000 geotagged Instagram
posts from Amsterdam, we analyse how the city is reassembled on and through the platform. By selectively drawing
on the city, users of the platform elevate exclusive and avant-garde establishments and events, which come to stand
out as hot spots, while rendering mundane and low-status places invisible. We find that Instagram provides a space
for the segmentation of users into subcultural groups that mobilise the city in varied ways. Social media practices,
our findings suggest, feed on as well as perpetuate socio-spatial inequalities.
Key words social media; network analysis; Instagram; Amsterdam; visual culture; information and communi-
cations technology
Sociology Department, University of Amsterdam, NL-1018 WV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Revised manuscript received 27 March 2017
The contemporary city is beset with inequalities, not
only in terms of the material distribution of resources
and amenities, but also in terms of recognition and
visibility. Areas and groups considered undesirable
the banlieue, the disabled, the elderly, immigrants, the
homeless are frequently degraded or rendered
invisible, while spaces of upscale consumption and
sanitised tourist havens are elevated. Many studies have
drawn attention to the ways in which authorities use
their power to promote specific representations of the
city and shape it according to their ideologies and
interests (Lefebvre 1991; Scott 1998). In this context,
the proliferation of distributed media technologies is
often heralded as a seismic shift: the power to represent
the city is no longer concentrated in the elites control-
ling the state and mass media, but is distributed as
people use their smartphones to produce and circulate
messages of their own making (Castells 2009). How-
ever, we do not yet know how representations of the
city circulate through these networks. Researchers are
only just beginning to study how the proliferation of
social media changes social relations among city
dwellers (e.g. Graham et al. 2013; Hampton and Katz
2016; Leszczynski and Crampton 2016). How do people
represent the city on social media? And how do these
representations feed back into peoples uses of the city?
We develop an approach that traces the relations
underlying social media representations to answer
these questions. We apply our approach in a study of
how the city of Amsterdam is reassembled through
Instagram. Instagram revolves around images. Users
take pictures and optionally apply filters to them. They
then share them, making them discoverable by adding
hashtags. Initially used by digital photography enthusi-
asts to add filters and effects to their photos, Instagram
has since its launch in 2010 ascended to join the ranks
of the worlds most popular social networking sites. In
2016, 32 per cent of online adults in the USA used
Instagram (Greenwood et al. 2016). In the Nether-
lands, Instagram has 3.2 million users, of which 1.5
million are daily users (Van den Veer et al. 2017). For
these reasons, Instagram is a compelling case to study
how the ubiquity of communication technologies and
the acceleration of image-sharing are changing rela-
tions of urban dwellers among each other and with
their environments. We study this process in a case
study of Amsterdam. Like many other cities, Amster-
dam has been gentrifying rapidly in the last decades
(Hochstenbach 2017). Our analyses demonstrate how
social media representations reflect and reinforce
processes of gentrification as Instagram users partake
in the aestheticisation of everyday life and promote
places of high-end consumption.
Our paper is organised as follows. First, we elabo-
rate our relational framework for analysing the online
urban interface. We then explain how we use a
combination of data sources and methods to grasp
patterns at both macroscopic and microscopic levels.
We begin the presentation of our results with a
qualitative account of how users interact with the city
and each other through the platform. Subsequent
sections use network analyses and computational
The information, practices and views in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of
the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). ISSN 0020-2754 Citation: 2017 42 612624 doi: 10.1111/tran.12185
©2017 The Authors. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers published by John Wiley &Sons Ltd on behalf of
Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution
and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
techniques to map patterns of stratification and
segmentation among users as well as places. We
conclude by outlining practices through which Insta-
gram users develop uneven networks, claim space and
selectively imbue places with symbolic value. These
social media practices, our findings suggest, feed on as
well as perpetuate inequalities in the city.
A relational approach to the interface
between the city and social media
While peoples experience of place has always been
shaped by communication whether informal conver-
sation on the street corner or news accounts drawn
from mass media the proliferation of media tech-
nologies has provided users with the capacity to
instantly share their impressions and images with
distant audiences. The key feature of wireless com-
munication, Castells notes, is not mobility but perpet-
ual connectivity(2009, 69).
How digital technologies impinge on urban space
can be understood in different ways. One way is to view
the interface between the city and social media as a
membrane that filters images and impressions: only
some are recorded and circulated, most are not (De
Waal 2014). Selectivity as such is not unique to digital
media; histories of photography have long noted that
photographers do not consider everything to be equally
worthy of capturing (Bourdieu et al. 1990; Kotchemi-
dova 2005; Sontag 1977; West 2000). What has changed
is that images can now be instantly uploaded and
shared (Sarvas and Frohlich 2011). While mobile
technologies allow users to instantly and incessantly
feed thoughts and images into their timelines, this, too,
is an uneven process. Users are, by necessity, highly
selective about where, with whom and through which
channels they communicate.
Alternately, we can view the interplay between
digital technologies and urban space in dramaturgical
terms. In this conception, social media are stages on
which users enact performances. Social media users do
not merely represent a city or self that is prior and
external to the process of representation, but rather are
engaged in an ongoing production. Jill Walker Rettberg
(2014) has argued that digital media enable modes of
self-fashioning; social media users come to understand,
communicate, and shape their selves through commu-
nication technologies (see also Hess 2015; Schwartz
and Halegoua 2015). The photographer, the subjects
on display and the surroundings are in a reciprocal
relation. The selfiea digital self-portrait is
exemplary in that users develop an understanding of
who they are as they craft intimate images for public
display. While the selfie genre is numerically less
prominent than commentary would lead one to expect,
other images shared on Instagram group portraits,
still lifes are also carefully staged, composed and
Although these conceptions of social media as
membrane and as stage have their roots in conflicting
epistemologies, for the purpose of tracing how the city
is reassembled, it is neither necessary nor productive to
choose one over the other.
Reassembling the city is a
creative and open process, but it plays out on the
uneven terrain of the city. As such, the array of subject
positions that can be enacted is bounded. Instagram
users can only stage a performance in an exclusive club
if they have access to that club. They can only fill their
timelines with pictures of exquisite fare if they can
afford going to haute cuisine restaurants. We conceive
of the reassembling of the city through social media as
a recursive process: Instagram users selectively and
creatively reassemble the city as they mobilise specific
places in the city as stages or props in their posts.
Instagram images, in turn, become operative in chang-
ing the city (de Souza e Silva and Sutko 2011; Hoelzl
and Marie 2015). To capture this recursive process of
reassembling the city through Instagram, we adopt a
relational perspective that examines relations and
practices microscopically and macroscopically (Elias
1978; Uitermark 2015).
A microscopic perspective brings into view the
experiences of social media users as they go through
their timelines or post messages. On Instagram, users
select certain places and moments, choose an angle and
a frame, invent witty hashtags, and use one of a
selection of filters to produce an image for circulation
to their followers. Even if users post images without
giving them much thought, they are nevertheless
conveying consciously or unconsciously a sense of
what is beautiful, enjoyable, humorous or interesting.
This process of communication continues as users view
the posts of others. Social media, including Instagram,
offer users the possibility to curate their feeds by
following others, which means they get to see the world
from their perspective. These processes of selective
communication also implicate the city: users mark
(tag) and see some places but ignore or skip others
(Kelley 2014; Kitchin and Dodge 2011; Zook and
Graham 2007). We want to discover how users navigate
their social and urban environment through Instagram.
In addition to a microscopic perspective, we need a
macroscopic perspective to bring the broader patterns
of uneven relations on social media into view. These
broader patterns emanate from individualsinterac-
tions, but they also have a dynamic of their own in the
sense that stratification or group formation may result
from only small differences in preferences and without
users consciously contributing to these patterns (Axel-
rod 1997; Elias 1978; Schelling 2006). The mundane
practices of following, likingand commenting weave
patterns of uneven relations, investing recognition in
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©2017 The Authors. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers published by John Wiley &Sons Ltd on behalf of
Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
some posts, places and people and not others (cf.
Graham et al. 2013).
These individual acts contribute to stratification as
some users and posts achieve greater recognition than
others. While social media are often described as
horizontalnetworks (e.g. Castells 2009 2012), research
shows that they frequently are highly unequal, with a
few users receiving the bulk of attention (Zhu and
Lerman 2016). Usersinteractions also create segmen-
tation. Social media afford users opportunities to
associate with like-minded people in segmented net-
works colloquially known as bubbles. In the urban
context, this results in what Robson and Butler (2001)
call social tectonicsand what De Waal (2014) refers to
as living apart together: urbanites may live in diverse
cities, but they selectively associate with others to
create homogeneous networks and demarcate their
domains. While we know that Instagram users dispro-
portionally belong to select segments of the population,
it is nevertheless likely that selective association among
users results in the formation of subgroups.
Data and methods
Our approach investigates practices and patterns of
Instagram use microscopically and macroscopically. On
a microscopic level, we researched how people see their
worlds and especially the city through Instagram by
analysing our corpus of Instagram posts (see below) on
an ongoing basis to get a sense of who is using
Instagram and what pictures they post. We selected
posts both by drawing random samples of hundreds of
posts and users, and by exploring the representation of
specific places. We also conducted in-depth interviews
with 16 active Instagram users between June and
November 2015 (Table 1), had informal conversations
with Instagram users and used the platform ourselves
to become acquainted with its functionality and
conventions. We recruited six of our interview respon-
dents through personal and on-campus networks, and
the remaining ten we approached after identifying
them as central users in various parts of the city using
the methods described below. During the in-depth
interviews, we asked a range of questions to get a sense
of our respondentsbackgrounds and subsequently
discussed how they used Instagram. We also looked at
their feeds and had them talk about images they
On a macroscopic level, we examine the broader
patterns of stratification and segmentation that emerge
from usersinteractions (see also Boy and Uitermark
2016). We collected the data for this analysis through
Instagrams application programming interface (API).
At the time of our research, the Instagram API allowed
queries for posts published in a geographic area. We
executed a series of such queries covering the area of
Amsterdam at regular intervals using a research tool we
developed (Boy 2015). Our initial corpus consists of
nearly one million geotagged Instagram posts originat-
ing from the Amsterdam municipal area gathered over
a 12-week span between 19 April and 12 July 2015. Our
corpus contains only posts that are geotagged.
This is
likely a skewed and small portion of overall Instagram
activity, but since we are particularly interested in
Instagram as a locative visual medium, this selectivity is
justified. Further, since our main interest is in how city
dwellers use social media in their everyday lives, we
considered only users who had at least two posts at
least four weeks apart to eliminate likely tourists,
bringing down the number of posts to 480 000. These
posts were created by more than 30 000 users. Each
post contains a dozen pieces of metadata, including a
timestamp, user data, location data (coordinates and in
some cases a named location), a caption (if provided by
Table 1 In-depth interview subjects
Interviewee (pseudonym) Followers Gender Interview date Age (*estimate) Primary occupation
1 (Sophie) 300+F 22 June 2015 23 Student
2 (Alexis) 100+F 22 June 2015 20 Student
3 (Anne) 2000+F 2 July 2015 31*Marketing
4 (Suzan) n/a F 2 July 2015 35*Entrepreneur
5 1000+F 2 July 2015 29*Marketing
6 (Simone) 3000+F 3 July 2015 26 Student
750+F 13 July 2015 25 Financial analyst
8 200+M 25 August 2015 23 Student
910+M 11 September 2015 51 Journalist
10 (Anita) 9000+F 18 September 2015 22*Student
11 3000+F 23 September 2015 33 DJ and party organiser
12 5000+F 23 September 2015 31 Event organiser
13 (Rosalie) 200+F 3 November 2015 36 Casting agent
14 (Nicole) 800+F 11 November 2015 36 Designer and entrepreneur
15 (Patrick) 3000+M 17 November 2015 19 Model, stylist and fashion designer
16 100+M 18 November 2015 32*Sales
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Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
the user) and hashtags (e.g. #amsterdam or #cappuc-
cino). About 24 hours after they were posted, we also
collected the responses (likes and comments) each post
The resulting dataset of responses has over
17.5 million entries, of which 1.1 million originated
from local users.
Figure 1 provides a map of the
geographical distribution of Instagram posts in our
corpus. The basis of our network analysis are the likes
and comments through which users engage with each
other. These practices weave webs of uneven relations,
with some posts and users receiving a lot of recognition
and acquiring central positions, and other posts and
users taking more marginal positions. We consider a
user to have a tie with another if she either commented
on or liked that users posts during the 12-week
window. The topology is constructed by considering
these ties as directed edges between users, who are
represented as nodes.
Ties are weighted according to
the sum of comments and likes.
We look at these
network topologies for the city as a whole as well as at
the neighbourhood level.
To study stratification, we look at the distribution of
likesand comments among users. Rather than simply
counting the number of likes and comments, we also
want to take into account the prominence of the users
engaging in these acts of recognition: if a very
prominent user likes a post or writes a comment, this
should count more than when a peripheral user does
the same. For this reason, we use the Page Rank
algorithm first developed to rank search results for
the Google search engine (Brin and Page 1998) to
map the distribution of recognition and identify central
users. If there were no bias toward certain images, users
and places, we would expect to find a more or less
random pattern of ties. If, on the other hand, Instagram
users express clear preferences for certain users and
places, we would find a skewed distribution.
To study segmentation, we identify communities of
users who have relatively strong direct and indirect ties.
We detect communities in an unweighted network of
reciprocated ties. We opt for the Infomap community
detection algorithm (Rosvall and Bergstrom 2008),
which has performed well in comparative tests (Lanci-
chinetti and Fortunato 2009) and is widely used among
network analysts. To characterise the groups obtained
from community detection, we looked up the accounts
Figure 1 The distribution of geo-tagged Instagram posts in our Amsterdam corpus
Note: Hotter colours indicate more posts. Overall density of Instagram use roughly corresponds with socio-
economic status and historicity. The historical centre and the gentrifying 19th-century districts around it, such
as the Jordaan to the west of the centre, are heavily covered. Roads from gentrifying districts to the canal
district can also be discerned. Basemap copyright OpenStreetMap contributors
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©2017 The Authors. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers published by John Wiley &Sons Ltd on behalf of
Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
of the most central users in each subgraph to see what
their backgrounds are and what images they post in
their timelines (cf. Boy and Uitermark 2016; Uitermark
et al. 2016). We also looked at the places cluster
members tagged. Users who tag places are not simply
there; they want to show others that they are there.
Place tags thus serve as markers of identity and lay a
symbolic claim to a place.
Seeing the world through Instagram
Instagram feeds are colourful and variegated, but at the
same time, Instagram projects a certain image of the
world. What Instagram users see as they scroll through
their feeds, what they post and how they use the platform
to navigate social and urban worlds are marked by this
prevailing aesthetic. Instagram posts capture moments
moments set apart by their refined beauty and good
vibes. They are rarely spectacular, but rather capture an
individuals street-level view of daily urban life, lovingly
arranged possessions or convivial occasions. In one
picture we find a large group of cyclists waiting for a
green light at an intersection; in another, a Jeff Buckley
record sleeve artfully propped up atop a record player; in
a third, we see young women and men dressed for a
special occasion, smiling and enjoying drinks together.
And of course we also find selfies, latte art and
beautifully plated avocado toast. As Henri Lefebvre
noted, moments can be distinguished from mere
instants, as the former entail the hope of reliving that
moment or preserving it as a privileged lapse of time,
embalmed in memory(2002, 343). Instagram users train
their eye to spot slices of the world around them worthy
of embalming. In the process of reassembling their life-
world in this manner, the everyday is relentlessly
aestheticised to the point that it never appears as the
merely ordinary or mundane.
Looking through a stream
of Instagram posts, one sees a seemingly interminable
series of peak moments. Instagram thus conveys aes-
thetic norms that induce a degree of conformity (Bour-
dieu et al. 1990) in how individuals use the platform.
This conformity has been the subject of numerous
parodies, a sure sign that media practices on Instagram
are subject to a set of unwritten rules.
In fact, the
exception proves the rule, because even reflexive and
critical users do not play outside them. They, too, are
enticed to use the platform to engage in strategies of
distinction and the digital marking of space.
One of our respondents, Alexis, has a highly
developed critical reflexivity about Instagram. She
pokes fun at users who show off their preference for
exquisite food or healthy lifestyles, for instance, by
posting a picture captioned I hate refined deserts,in
which she poses next to a well-composed haute cuisine
dessert and sticks her middle finger out to the camera.
When asked directly in the interview, she stated that
she never tags places. However, as the interviewer went
through her Instagram feed, it appeared that she had,
in fact, geotagged many of her holiday photos. One
recent post in Amsterdam also featured a place tag. It
was a post that pictured her with friends at Walters, a
bar on Javastraat that is among the most prominent
Instagram places in the gentrifying neighbourhood
Indische Buurt. Alexis was perplexed that she did that.
Alexis: I dont think I have well, maybe here. Oh! It says ...
Interviewer: You tagged the location, Walters. This is on
Alexis: Yeah, I did. Interesting. Yeah, I did it here. Yeah.
That was nice. [...] Yeah, it was new then, and it was very
nice, it was very dinner was very good, and a friend of mine
worked there, she was our waitress. Maybe, I dont know
why ...maybe also to show, I went to the new cool place!I
dont know what was going through my mind.
Here we begin to see why the city on Instagram
looks much more appealing and glamorous than in
everyday real life. Simone, a respondent whom we
identified through her central position in her neigh-
bourhood network, was more explicit about these
Interviewer: How do you find that a new restaurant has
opened that you want to go to and those kinds of things?
Simone: Yeah, mostly Instagram, actually. I follow a lot of
people from around here. Theres always someone who
hears about it, and then it just spreads so quickly. You just
see people going there, and ... yeah. Sometimes Im the
first, sometimes someone else is the first, but I always like to
be one of the first to go. Its like a little its not really a
competition, but in a way it also is, a little bit. [laughs].
She attributes her success in this competition to her
heightened ambient awareness:
I always look around. If I see new places and its something
that really interests me its like a gift. I see everything. I
actually see, if you have a big street with shops and its
completely chaotic, I still see if theres a new place opening
there, because its just something I notice. I see everything.
My doctor says that it has something to do with my ADHD
[laughs], that I look at everything. [...]Im kind of obsessed
with my surroundings, so thats where my focus goes.
Our respondents were all acutely aware that the
pictures in their feeds are taken and curated to convey
that their posters are happy, healthy and hip. While the
beauty and grandeur in their feeds may be a source of
enjoyment, some also expressed frustration at the
sanitised ideal embodied in the images that often are
purged of all blemishes and negativity. The vernacular
discourse around Instagram has developed ways to
critically address this predominant smooth aesthetic.
Respondents mentioned that it is undesirable to come
across as a catfishsomebody whose appearance is
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©2017 The Authors. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers published by John Wiley &Sons Ltd on behalf of
Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
simply too perfect to be believable. There are accept-
able levels of preening and peacocking, but there is also
a point where one has clearly overdone it. Of course
Ill be, like, posting some photogenic stuff, and when I
wake up I can look like shit. But nah, Im not a catfish,
explained Patrick. Even Simone, the highly strategic
user who regards Instagram as a competition of sorts,
expressed sometimes being bothered by its prevailing
aesthetic: People just want to see nice photos. But it
does make everything look nicer than it is, so you cant
really see what someones life is actually about. So in
that way its quite fake.
The idea that the selective presentation of ones life
amounts to a fakewas taken up by many of our
respondents as they scrolled through their own pic-
tures. As we looked through her pictures together,
Rosalie reflected,
Its funny. Why do I do this? Its because ... I have to think
about it ... I think its also a really nice way to look at your
own life and maybe you want to see your life like this. Well,
of course its fake, because Im not always this happy, you
know. But in a certain way it isnt. I think its the way I want
to see life or something? Yeah, I think so.
Sophie said she often feels social pressure looking
through her social media feeds, because everyone
always seems to be doing impressive things. But mostly
she appreciates how Instagram users curate their
images: You can just scroll, and youre looking at it,
like, pretty!And the pictures are always very happy,
and everybody is so healthy!This exclamation came
over as at once delighted and exasperated.
Instagrams aesthetic norms apply not just to people
and experiences but also to places. Just like some
people used to put pins in a map of the world to mark
where they have been, our respondents switch on
geolocation for the pictures they take on their travels.
Having recently gone on vacation to Curac
ßao for the
first time, Nicole told us that there were very, very nice
places that I myself dont want to forget, so I tagged
some places where some pictures were taken. When
we looked at their maps of geotagged pictures, the first
thing that came out is that our respondents frequently
tag places abroad, both because they take many
pictures when they travel and because they want to
have their picturesgeographical coordinates. Such
geotagged histories in turn help others navigate.
Several respondents look up Instagram pictures before
they go on a trip to get a preview of the scenery and the
places and their patrons. Alexis was planning a trip to
Morocco and had used Instagram to decide which
places to travel to, and Sophie was seeking out Parisian
Instagram users to see what places she could visit
during her study-abroad semester.
The same logic applies when respondents use
Instagram to navigate in their own city. When they
see an appealing picture, they may get the idea to join
the user or to visit the place at a later point in time.
Instagram in a sense serves as a personalised brochure
with appealing events and places. For some, Instagram
has taken the place of apps like Yelp whose main
function is to seek out, review and recommend places
(cf. Zukin et al. 2015). Anita told us, I try to follow
people that are similar to me, similar interests. So I
check their feed usually to see if they have been
somewhere that they have recommended. Simone said
of Instagram that, to her, its a search enginea
search engine for places. The new places our
respondents brought up such as Walters in Indische
Buurt are part and parcel of gentrification. Instagram
confirms the status and visibility of these places, further
boosting their competitive position and their role as
engines of gentrification. In this sense, Instagram
not only feeds on but also reinscribes socio-spatial
The stratified world of Instagram
Mundane acts of recognition in the form of likes,
comments or place tagging result in stratification,
making some posts, users and places stand out while
others remain an undifferentiated part of the ever-
flowing stream. Who and what is able to rise to
prominence? This section first demonstrates that
Instagrams figurations are very uneven and introduces
the figures that sit at the zenith of the symbolic
universe, enjoying the lions share of the attention and
recognition given to Instagram users in the city. These
hubs in the network are successful symbolic entrepre-
neurs who are in a distinguished position to shape how
other users perceive the city. We then introduce the
places that come out on top.
Centre stage
Instagrams symbolic universe is highly stratified. Fig-
ure 2 shows that, for the city as a whole, likes and
comments are very unevenly distributed. We made
similar graphs for each of the 22 areas within the city
and they looked virtually identical: they are heavily
skewed, heavy-tailed distributions.
Most users attain
only a meagre level of attention; they account for the
peak close to the graphs origin. As we go further right
along the x-axis, we see that the proportion of accounts
attaining higher levels of attention drops off rapidly.
Only a very small number of users in the long tailof
the distribution command very high levels of attention.
Looking at the most central accounts at the neigh-
bourhood level by Page Rank centrality, some similar-
ities emerge. For one, the central accounts are run by
young people. According to our estimation, the age of
the women and men running these accounts is on
average around 24. Only a third are aged 30 and above,
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Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
while others are as young as 18. The clear majority of
the central accounts are run by women.
In the 22
areas of the city we studied, 14 had accounts run by
women in the most central location of the local
network. A third characteristic most account owners
share is that they work in the creative professions,
broadly conceived. Seven work in fashion as stylists,
designers, models or boutique store owners; six work in
entertainment as DJs, party organiser, actresses or
singers; the remaining ones work in marketing or public
relations as writers, editors or artists. The star account
at the city level is run by a woman in her thirties who
works as a model, DJ, travel and fashion writer, and
more. It is hard to determine how, exactly, she makes a
living. On her website she calls herself a professional
We know from surveys that Instagram users are
overwhelmingly adolescents and young adults, and we
know that a greater proportion of women use Insta-
gram than men. In this regard, the central nodes are
quite typical. It is also noteworthy that, although these
users are overwhelmingly white and Dutch, there are a
few exceptions. For instance, in several of the neigh-
bourhoods that make up the South-East area of
Amsterdam, the central accounts are owned by black
women and men.
While these occupations, particularly in fashion,
marketing and entertainment, are strongly represented
in Amsterdam, the cultural capital of the Netherlands,
it is nonetheless striking that they are so strongly
represented among the star accounts. These profes-
sions prepare people to be successful symbolic entre-
preneurs. The skills learned in these fields can be
applied to craft a successful online image. It is also not
clear whether these usersInstagram activity is even
distinct from their professional life. Their social life
on Instagram may just be an extension or outgrowth of
their professional life and vice versa, to the extent that
the lines are completely blurred. A pair of city
marketers who run a highly visible Instagram account
confirmed this in the course of our interview:
Anne: Last night it was so warm and I couldnt sleep at all,
so I just put a chair in front of the window, opened the
window and thought Id read a book. So I was reading the
book, and every two pages I was like I wanted to grab my
phone. This is not normal! I just put my phone away in
another room. Okay, I dont want I just want to read right
now. But the constant its just in your head all the time.
You just want to grab it. Its ridiculous. Because we do it all
day long, and you share all day long.
Interviewer: Its hard to confine that to your work hours.
Suzan: But thats something you know, work hours, for us ...
Anne: We dont really have work hours.
Suzan: We dont work, and we dont have a private life.
If we look not only at the number one users in each
neighbourhood but at some of the lower-ranked top
users, we mostly find accounts run by individuals who
share many of the same characteristics: young, female,
with a connection to marketing, public relations,
fashion, entertainment and lifestyle. These users may
not work directly in fashion, for instance, but they are
fashion enthusiasts who maintain blogs on the subject.
Similarly, we find food bloggers who are hobbyist
restaurant reviewers. In these cases the distinction
between work life and social life is blurred as well. We
also find full-time city marketers who hype local scenes
Figure 2 Weighted indegree distributions for Instagram users in Amsterdam
Note: Edge weights are proportional to the logarithm of the total number of likes and comments between users
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Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
and explicitly turn to Instagram to promote what the
city has to offer. For these individuals, too, the personal
and the professional overlap: their feeds combine
pictures of their clientsplaces, mainly stores and
restaurants, with personal impressions of waterfronts,
parks or time spent with friends.
Assembling heat maps
When Instagrammers in Amsterdam tag places in their
posts to advertise their presence there, they favour
certain kinds of locations. The urban imagination
promoted by Instagram sees the city as a collection of
hot spots, and what is in between these hot spots gets
the cold shoulder. In fact, fewer than two dozen
locations account for one fifth of all location-tagged
posts. Topping the list, Vondelpark, the citys second-
largest park to the southwest of the city centre, is
tagged more than twice as often as the second most
popular location, a former gasworks that now houses
cultural events, start-ups and bars. Several other parks
and public landmarks are among the most commonly
tagged locations, including the Central Station train
hub and well-known art museums.
Toward the top of the list we also find several
concert venues and event spaces. It is noteworthy that
Paradiso, a venue with a seating capacity of around
1500, appears far more frequently than arenas that host
concerts by superstars that can seat tens of thousands.
Other commonly tagged places include nightlife loca-
tions in the city centre, such as lounges and clubs.
These frequently host glamorous parties that are
promoted on Instagram and then have an afterglow
there when attendees share their pictures from the
night. Users also signal their presence at other tempo-
rary events, especially music festivals, fashion shows,
but also a weekend-long food truck festival. Further
down the list we find restaurants, bars, coffee houses
and retail stores. While there are several hundred posts
tagged at Starbucks and Coffee Company franchises,
they are far outweighed by posts tagged at independent
establishments owned and operated by local entrepre-
neurs. The same is true for stores. Quirky concept
stores that sell vintage clothing alongside premium
coffee roasted in small batches frequently appear
toward the top of the list, while H&M chain stores
are tagged only sparsely. Much like they are more
inclined to post from the small concert venue than a big
arena, Instagram users are more likely to promote
independent boutique establishments than major out-
lets. Whereas Zukin et al. found that [t]he lifestyle
pages of local media give prominent coverage to the
opening of new art galleries, restaurants, and designer
clothing boutiquesand that most elected officials and
community development groups praise new stores and
restaurants as signs of capital reinvestment(2009, 49),
our findings suggest that Instagram users and perhaps
social media users generally are also highly selective
in their coverage and very appreciative of places that
signal and drive gentrification.
The segmented worlds of Instagram
The Infomap community detection algorithm finds
eight large clusters of more than 100 users who have a
more or less pronounced profile (Table 2). Before
discussing the clusters and their place within the city, it
is perhaps important to point out that divisions
between these clusters are not always very sharp. We
see interactions between the various clusters, as shown
in Figure 3. Additionally, there are places that are
tagged by users from different clusters. For instance,
the Amsterdam Open Air festival attracts a remarkably
diverse Instagram constituency, as does Vondelpark.
The existence of these spaces of mutual identification
suggests that group boundaries are permeable. How-
ever, we also see that the clusters are distinctive in
some important ways. While there are no strict
boundaries between clusters and all clusters are inter-
nally heterogeneous, we can nevertheless provide
rough descriptions of the different clusters to give an
impression of how group formation plays out on
Clusters I and II are the most central in the overall
network (Table 2; Figure 2). These clusters are over-
whelmingly made up of people involved in creative
professions who cultivate hedonistic and spectacular
lifestyles (cluster I) or aesthetic and ascetic lifestyles
(cluster II). The figures introduced above as occupying
centre stage can overwhelmingly be found in these
clusters. When we look at the locations of posts
(Figure 4), both of these central clusters cover large
parts of Amsterdam. The geographies of both clusters
are similar, but cluster I features more posts from the
recently gentrified neighbourhoods of De Pijp and
Oud-West, whereas cluster II features more posts from
the established and chic Zuid neighbourhood.
The cluster of city image makers(cluster III) has
many users specialising in film or photography who love
taking the city as their object. They are expert image
makers, both amateur and professional, who picture
the city from original angles, but they focus their lenses
on the same landmarks and landscapes as tourists do,
including the canals, museums and historical districts.
Their streams are full of pictures of characteristic
streets or buildings. This cluster also contains a number
of expats who register what they find beautiful as they
get to know the city. Users in this cluster are more
likely than most users to tag places in their posts.
The Amstelstraat party cluster (cluster IV) is
organised around ABE Club & Lounge. While many
users tag the exclusive club as patrons, the most central
users in this cluster actually work at ABE or next door,
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at Club AIR, as DJs or party organisers. Parties are the
speciality of the members of this cluster; all the places
they tag are large festivals or well-known clubs in
Amsterdams city centre. Cluster IV brokers between
groups that are on the periphery of the network,
clusters VI and VII, and the central clusters I and II.
This may be due to the efforts of party organisers and
DJs to bring together different subcultures in clubs on
Amstelstraat and elsewhere.
The cluster of locally oriented gentrifiers(cluster
V) stands out because users in this cluster frequently
tag places. The density of posts is comparatively high in
Table 2 Overview of the eight largest clusters obtained from community detection on relations among over 30 000
Instagram users in Amsterdam
Proportion of posts
with place tags Main places (number of tags)
I. Vanguard of partying
cultural producers
19.1% Jimmy Woo (53), Paradiso Amsterdam (49), Schiffmacher & Veldhoen Tattooing
(43), Hannekes Boom (34)
II. Vanguard of lifestyle
20.1% Westergasfabriek (47), M&M Stand Up Paddling (38), Vondelpark (28), Sofitel
Legend (27), FUSE Communication (24)
III. City image makers 32.7% Station Amsterdam Centraal (105), Rijksmuseum (94), Vondelpark (88),
Amsterdam Tower (66), Jordaan (42)
IV. The Amstelstraat club
19.2% ABE club (253), Hotel Arena (52), Jimmy Woo (36), John Doe (33), Open Air
V. Locally oriented
36.9% Pressroom (126), Cafe Scrapyard (120), INK Hotel (63), BAUT ZUID (55),
Restaurant Girassol (36)
VI. City-oriented apprentice
23.3% Open Air (41), ABE club & lounge (14), Jantjes Verjaardag (12), Palladium (11),
Pacha Festival (11)
VII. Urban 6.4% Global Dance Centre (19), Vondelpark (4), Station Amsterdam Centraal (4),
Amsterdam Open Air (4)
VIII. Neo-bohemians 17.2% Paradiso (27), Amstel Hotel (10), Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (8), Stedelijk
museum (7), De Balie Amsterdam (7)
Figure 3 Graph of ties between clusters
Note: Edge labels specify the number of interactions between users in connected clusters
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the rapidly gentrifying 19th-century districts (the ring
around the canal district). Several of the most central
accounts in this cluster are run by marketing
entrepreneurs who assist gentrifiers in navigating the
city: they picture places (sometimes for a fee) that
appeal to gentrifierstaste for branded authenticity.
This cluster is locally oriented: users organise around
places with a neighbourhood vibe. Through their
pictures and discourse, they promote new establish-
ments that they consider real assets to the neighbour-
hood because of their authentic and local feel, as
expressed for instance by the availability of local craft
The most central users in the cluster of unpreten-
tious partygoers(cluster VI) are young women in their
early 20s. Their timelines are full of pictures at parties
where they pose with young men displaying their toned
bodies. Some of the places they go to are exclusive but
not vanguard; they include places where football
players are known to hang out. Other places, such as
Jantjes Verjaardag, are unpretentious venues known to
attract a clientele from outside Amsterdam pejoratively
referred to as provincials. While it is likely that a
number of people in this cluster live outside Amster-
dam, the geography of their posts suggest that quite a
few live in Amsterdam West and Amsterdam Noord.
Figure 4 The distribution of geo-tagged Instagram posts from Amsterdam for different clusters of users
Note: Hotter colours indicate more posts. Basemaps by Stamen Design, used under Creative Commons Attribution
3.0 license
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Whereas the other clusters post from cultural land-
marks in these districts (e.g. Pllek, NDSM, Eye Film
Museum), the people in this cluster post from these
districtsresidential areas. The posts in this cluster are
only unpretentious by comparison; some of the pictures
outside of party situations are suggestive of aspirations
to high-class metropolitan living, as the users pose in
the urban landscape with glasses of wine or cups of
Cluster VII largely consists of women and men of
colour in their early 20s. Many users within this cluster
showcase their affinity for locally inflected expressions
of hip-hop culture. Remarkably, no more than 6 per
cent of posts have place tags. In the rare cases that
places are tagged, these are mostly in the Bijlmer, a
predominantly black neighbourhood on Amsterdams
south-eastern periphery. However, this does not mean
that the life-worlds of users in this group are confined
to this neighbourhood; while the Bijlmer is this clusters
centre of gravity, their posts come from all over
Amsterdam. Members of this cluster also have a strong
local identity, as expressed in displays of Amsterdam
streetwear brands Patta and Filling Pieces. While they
are proud of their city, members in this cluster lack
places that they identify with and mark as their own.
Our respondent Patrick, who lives in the Ganzenhoef
section of the Bijlmer, put it like this:
If you live in de Pijp, of course you can just point your
camera, just like this, 180 degrees, and then move your
camera. [...] Yeah, I think its easier then. Because if you
stand on the block right here, in Ganzenhoef, and you point
the same camera 180 degrees, like I just told you, you will
only see, like, theres a dude slanging crack over there.
Theres a couple of kids having fun, sure, kicking a ball. Or
theres, like, a junkie asking people for money. Or you have
a lot of guys smoking weed. Its not really positive, as people
would say.
Creative professionals and artists mostly make up
cluster VIII. This neo-bohemiancluster has compar-
atively more men who are somewhat older than the
members of other clusters. This cluster is the only one
where at least some (male) users seem to consciously
and ironically reject an overly slick appearance. They
sport untrimmed hair and picture bizarre situations,
such as a man posing with a huge inflatable banana
while ironically making overtures to a woman. Some of
them might attract the label of hipster. The range of
places they tag is remarkable: we find chic establish-
ments (Amstel Hotel) and places for the cultural elite
(De Balie) alongside the low-brow performances of the
In short, we can see how the segmentation of the city
occurs not only through residential segregation but also
through more complex spatial sorting on the interface
of social media and the city (Graham 2005). When
people use social media to navigate the city, social
media bubbles reflect and reinforce socio-spatial divi-
sions within the city. Although the boundaries among
groups are not very sharp (there are connections
between the groups both in terms of mutual likesor
comments and in terms of places tagged), it is striking
that we can observe very different ways of relating to
the city. Some groups notably the cluster of locally
oriented gentrifiers(cluster V) conspicuously display
the places where they congregate and consume, while
other groups notably the urbancluster (cluster
VII) have very few places to claim as their own. The
uneven access to different parts of the city thus
translates into inequalities in Instagrams symbolic
While much of the literature emphasises that the wide
distribution of social media results in horizontal
networks with considerable critical potential, our study
of Instagram paints a more complex picture. We find
that Instagram users act out aesthetic and lifestyle
ideals as they craft images and strategically display
aspects of their life-worlds. Instagram constitutes a
distinctive way of seeing that composes an image of the
city that is sanitised and nearly devoid of negativity.
The feeds are full of desirable items, attractive bodies,
beautiful faces, healthy foods, witty remarks and
impressive sceneries. The messiness and occasional
gloom and doom of the city have no place there.
Instagram users are acutely aware of the images
selectivity; it is what excites them about the platform
and it is also what, occasionally, causes them stress as
they feel they have to follow suit and produce images
that their followers will appreciate.
As Instagram users likeand comment on pictures,
they construct asymmetric relationships within Insta-
grams symbolic universe. Our results indicate that
these networks are far from horizontal: there are a few
starswho receive the bulk of attention, and many
more peripheral users who receive comparatively little.
The figures with the greatest capacity to shape the
image of the city on Instagram are symbolic entrepre-
neurs emblematic of the post-Fordist urban economy
(cf. Harvey 1989; Van den Berg 2017). The ideals that
are cultivated and visualised on Instagram and the
uneven relationships that are constructed also impli-
cate the city: some places are elevated and feature
centre stage, while others remain peripheral or are
altogether ignored. While we found that users often tag
public places such as parks, the places that are elevated
above all others are part of local scenes centred around
high-end consumption, glamour and refined lifestyles.
Instagram serves to showcase patronage of exclusive
places. Our analyses show how social media partake in
reassembling the urban landscape. As Instagram users
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boost their own status by picturing themselves in
certain places, they also boost the status of those
places. By producing and circulating appealing pictures
of these places, users promote trendy bars, restaurants,
coffee houses and stores. While it is plausible that
Instagram users help to aestheticise neoliberal urban-
ism, they do so in particular ways. They do not bring
attention to large chains or big brands but picture
distinctly local and often small places. The proprietors
of these places lack the scale to set up massive
marketing campaigns, but their patrons advertise their
products through social media, thus giving a boost to
their businesses.
While all Instagram users creatively reassemble
elements of their life-worlds to fashion their identity
displays, there are marked inequalities among users
in terms of the places they display. Our analyses
show some types of users are way more likely to tag
places than others. While the results reveal subtle
variations, there are also some striking differences
that signal pronounced inequalities that emerge on
the onlineoffline interface. For instance, we found
that users in a cluster of gentrifiers are six times
more likely to tag places than users in a cluster of
young women and men of colour. This suggests that
some groups have greater symbolic and spending
power to reassemble the city, and Instagram is a tool
they use to achieve this.
We consider the analysis presented in this paper as
part of a broader endeavour to explore the interface
between social media and the city under conditions of
deep mediatisation (Couldry and Hepp 2016). Materi-
ality or visceral experience do not become less impor-
tant but are increasingly intertwined with images and
messages circulating through a range of communication
circuits. Mapping these new layers becomes increas-
ingly essential to address perennial issues in geograph-
ical and urban scholarship. It is in this spirit that our
analysis combines computational analyses with more
traditional methods and integrates them into a frame-
work that enables us to examine how representations
shape and reflect socio-spatial inequalities.
We thank Christian Bröer, Nick Couldry, Marianna
DOvidio, Mandy de Wilde, Jack Jen Gieseking, Linda
van de Kamp, Sander van Haperen, Dorien Zandber-
gen, and the Transactions reviewers for helpful com-
ments and suggestions. We are grateful to Irene
Bronsvoort for her research assistance as well as her
feedback. This work was funded in part by the Research
Council of Norway (no. 231344). [Correction added on
07 August 2017, after first online publication: Funding
information was previously omitted and has been
added in this version.]
1 Like Manovich et al. (2014), we found that selfies
account for a small proportion of all images shared on
Instagram. In a small random sample from our corpus
that we studied (n=131), only 9.1 per cent of images were
2 Our relational framework is inspired by assemblage
thinking without fully embracing assemblage theory (see
Baker and McGuirk 2016).
3 On Instagram, users can opt whether to attach their
location to posts on a post-by-post basis. At the time of
our research they also had the option to name their own
location or leave the location field blank. This changed in
August 2015 when Instagram removed the Add to
Photomapfeature from its mobile apps.
4 While there is an occasional long tailof activity, most
activity on a post happens in the first few hours. When
fetching likes, we are limited to the 140 most recent likes,
so for some very popular posts, we are unable to retrieve
all activity.
5 We stored metadata in a database, but in an effort to
respect usersprivacy, we did not save the media file
attached to posts. When needed for content analysis, we
retrieved these media files later. We could only do so if
the user had not deleted the post in the interim or set
their account to private, which means that we could not
see posts the users did want to display publicly. Even
though the users we discuss in this paper often have
many followers and share images freely, we do not
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6 We used the igraph software package (Cs
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7 Because we were unable to retrieve the full number of
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8 On the aestheticisation of the self and of everyday life,
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9 See, for instance, the brilliant animation titled Clich
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erophante (2015). The artist notes that, by parodying
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... The collection of unauthenticated histories as digital records has also been implemented based on Facebook in the northwest of Ireland [26]. Computational analysis of more than 400,000 geotagged images from Instagram have been supplemented with interviews from 16 active users to reveal the social-spatial inequality in the city of Amsterdam [27]. The politics, religion, and residents' and tourists' likings in Lebanon's city of Tripoli, rich with history, are shown through Flickr's photos, tags, and real-time geo-location [28]. ...
... There has been a vast amount of research completed on the adaptation of influence and evolution of trends in Western online social networks [30][31][32]. In particular, applying social media apps, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to qualitative geography research is becoming increasingly popular [24,27,33,34]. Even if some researchers point out that social media apps have a lower penetration and a potential bias toward younger populations [35], some governments are still utilising social media as an important way to reach out to citizens. ...
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The assessment of public participation is one of the most fundamental components of holistic and sustainable cultural heritage management. Since the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic became a catalyst for the transformation of participatory tools. Collaboration with stakeholders moved online due to the strict restrictions preventing on-site activities. This phenomenon provided an opportunity to formulate more comprehensive and reasonable urban heritage protection strategies. However, very few publications mentioned how social networking sites' data could support humanity-centred heritage management and participatory evaluation. Taking five World Cultural Heritage Sites as research samples, the study provides a methodology to evaluate online participatory practices in China through Weibo, a Chinese-originated social media platform. The data obtained were analysed from three perspectives: the users' information, the content of texts, and the attached images. As shown in the results section, individuals' information is described by gender, geo-location, celebrities, and Key Opinion Leaders. To a greater extent, participatory behaviour emerges at the relatively primary levels, that being "informing and consulting". According to the label detection of Google Vision, residents paid more attention to buildings, facades, and temples in the cultural heritage sites. The research concludes that using social media platforms to unveil interplays between digital and physical heritage conservation is feasible and should be widely encouraged.
Slow scholarship offers an alternative way to do research, yet its implications for visual practice and production remain implicit. In this article, I translate and apply key notions of slow scholarship to visual practice and production, in particular that slower can be a better and more care-full way of doing research. This gap is filled by re-purposing existing methods (time-series, inconvenience sampling, replicable) to capture what I deem the “slow city,” that is the everyday fabrics of urban areas that tend to be ignored and vulnerable to slow violence. My own counter-visualization applies these insights through three case studies, which map onto longitudinal methods (slow violence, care-full research) and translocal, replicable methods (the untagged city).
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COVID-19 global pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis and the entire global community passing through turbulent times. With the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases growing exponentially, the entire world has come to a standstill. This Covid-19 global pandemic has created stressful unsettling circumstances for the whole world. It has completely disrupted the normal socio economic activities in the whole world. Most of the countries in the world have enforced a complete lockdown and taking several pro-active measures and necessary precautions to ensure health and safety of its citizens. In this critical juncture people use technology and other electronic means not only to stay connected, work from home but also use it as a major sources of sharing their opinions through social media. People have flooded their social media accounts with their opinion on Covid-19 and lockdown. In this paper, 9 lacs tweets from all over the world are extracted and analysed. Tweets are extracted for the month of March 2020 and April 2020. The findings show that almost half of the people are optimistic about the lockdown and have a positive opinion that they will overcome the situation. Around 2.76 lac people have negative opinions about lockdown and Covid-19 and around 2.1 lac people are neutral in their opinion. A detailed comparison of tweets for months of March 2020 and April 2020 is done. The comparison proves that there is an increase in Negative opinion in April 2020 as compared to March 2020. A comparison of word-cloud of March 2020 and April 2020 concludes a shift of frequency of words from Europe to USA.
In this study, a powerful prediction method based on machine learning is presented. The proposed work suggests the experimental study of the proposed data analysis tool to predict for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In this work, UFC is particularly chosen to understand the overlapping of feature vectors and detection of outlier features as UFC prediction is a multidimensional problem. The proposed work focuses on the features of age and height of the fighter. The efficiency of the proposed work is presented with clear visualization.
In nations where colonialism persists such as Australia, scholars have identified the hegemony of a morally infused white farming imaginary. While this construction has traditionally been invested in heteropatriarchal ideologies our aim in this paper is to demonstrate how, in recent years, white middle-class farming women have been woven into this narrative through settler colonial logics. We take up this contention in the Australian context examining 100 posts to two major institutional Instagram accounts that feature farming women: @invisfarmer and @agrifuturesau. Using the lens of settler colonialism, and a visual and textual analysis, we identify how the “white middle-class woman farmer” is framed by discourses of white feminism and invisibility/visibility. We reveal the emergence of a narrow farming woman aesthetic which is bolstered by narratives which celebrate the “successful female farmer” and the “successful female farm leader”. In concluding the paper, we discuss the implications of the gendering of the white farming imaginary, and make a call for gender and rural studies scholars to de-centre and disaggregate the “white middle-class settler farming woman” subject position, through attending to settler colonialism and Indigenous scholarship in understandings of Australian rurality.
One of the key trends that can be seen in gentrifying environments is the use of “street art” murals, which are increasingly connected to official government-sanctioned “street art festivals,” to decorate the walls of urban neighborhoods—sometimes located in officially designated “arts” or “creative districts.” In this article, I consider the role that Instagram practices have played in the popularization of such districts. In a case study of Denver’s RiNo Art District, I argue that as street art is used to turn everyday urban environments into sites of adventurous exploration, the sharing of images from these discoveries on social media helps to make territories more familiar and thus more open to socioeconomic change. This case is considered as an example of how mediatization is connected to gentrification processes.
This article introduces the special issue “Gentrification and the right to the geomedia city.” The aim of the special issue is to make up for the lack of research on how gentrification is shaped and underpinned by the normalization of various media platforms that currently define urban life—and what these media mean to the resistance to gentrification. Building on the seven contributions that make up the special issue, this article introduces the concept of the geomedia city as a discriminatory regime of dwelling. The geomedia city refers not only to the digital infrastructures built into urban environments—circulating and embedding data—but more crucially to the social and cultural dynamics whereby certain norms, skills, and forms of capital (and thus people) are legitimized (or marginalized) in the city. As such, geomedia constitutes a territorializing force that lubricates urban displacement processes by defining who has the right to belong where.
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The impact of gentrification in cities is well established. The continuous evolution in geolocation and social media is intensifying the contest between competing stakeholder claims to authenticity about gentrifying places. In this article, we examine the way that different geolocative social media define a struggle over the rights to authenticity in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Brisbane, Australia. Local voices are often submerged by the voices of commercial imperative, particularly when the rent gap in gentrifying neighborhoods begins to attract abstract capital with a vested interest in commodifying local culture. We use Instagram and Facebook to critically examine how the hegemonic influence of social media can construct a gentrifying neighborhood in immaterial space and argue that these constructions work to eradicate the complex array of communities that comprise this neighborhood in material space.
Data-driven urbanism is often entangled with the smart city and practiced in a way that prioritizes control over physical objects and downplays the human and political aspects of data. We label this approach ‘hard city sensing’ (HCS) and we argue that the rise of the ‘digital city’ offers the empirical foundation for more humanistic approaches. Driven by the ambition to untangle data-driven urbanism from HCS, this paper reviews two decades of scholarship that has used digital traces as an empirical ground for understanding urban phenomena. The review identifies four distinct ways of working with digital traces of which three pave the way for new ways of problematizing the city. Instead of abandoning the idea of data-driven urbanism, we propose the framework of 'soft city sensing' (SCS) as way to re-engage with it with inspiration from these pioneering works. However, this requires a willingness to revisit central epistemological commitments that currently serve as standards for how to “properly” do data projects. We therefore urge qualitative urban scholars to ponder the possibilities of furthering their urban interest by ‘thinking with algorithms’ while retaining their interpretative ambitions just as we identify a need for urban decion-makers to expand their criteria for what serves as valid data inputs to urban planning.
The emerging trend of online self-presentation that cause the selective release of photos and thus create biased city images circulating in social networks deserves greater research attention. As a response to this, the paper investigates the image of Wangfujing Beijing on Instagram, which cements its reputation as a symbol of traditional food culture but limits its potential to be the embodiment of cosmopolitan urban living. After arguing that the exotic images of the food market can better help Instagrammers play an urban adventurer before followers, the paper analyzes over 5500 sets of Instagram data, and then examines three narrative patterns used to describe the place, corresponding to the context description, the connection establishment, and the visual emphasis of the dominant theme. The visual storytelling techniques used in them will assist in understanding the image-based communication between social network users and thereby increase the possibility of managing the online city image.
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This book investigates the gender revolution in urban planning and public policy. Building on feminist urban studies, it introduces the concept of genderfication as a means of understanding the consequences of post-Fordist gender notions for the city. It traces the changes in western urban gender relations, arguing that in the post-Fordist urban landscape gender is used for urban planning and public policy – both to rebrand a city’s image and to produce space for gender-equal ideals, often at the cost of precarious urban populations. This is a topic that remains largely unexplored in critical urban studies and radical geography. Chapters cover how Jane Jacobs’ perspectives provide an alternative to the patriarchal modernist city for contemporary planners and using Rotterdam as a case study Van Den Berg discusses why new urban planning methods focus on attracting women and children as new urbanites. Topics include: forms of place marketing, gender as a repertoire for contemporary urban Imagineering and the concept of urban re-generation. The final chapter investigates how cities aiming to redefine themselves imagine future populations and how they design social policies that explicitly and particularly target women as mothers. Scholars in all fields of urban studies will find this work thought-provoking, instructive and informative.
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Gentrification plays a key role in the class transformations many major cities are currently experiencing. Urban neighbourhoods are remade according to middle-class preferences, often at the cost of lower-income groups. This dissertation investigates the influence of gentrification processes on socialspatial inequalities in urban regions, focusing specifically on Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It shows that gentrification constitutes a forceful process of urban change, affecting many neighbourhoods in different ways. These urban processes ultimately produce growing disparities between booming central areas and struggling peripheries and suburbs. In doing so, gentrification amplifies inequality between poor and affluent groups, but also exacerbates increasingly pressing inequalities between and within generations.
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Against the backdrop of the widespread individualization of the creative workforce, various genres of social media production have emerged from the traditionally feminine domains of fashion, beauty, domesticity, and craft. Fashion blogging, in particular, is considered one of the most commercially successful and publicly visible forms of digital cultural production. To explore how fashion bloggers represent their branded personae as enterprising feminine subjects, we conducted a qualitative analysis of the textual (n = 38 author narratives) and visual (n = 760 Instagram images) content published by leading fashion bloggers; we supplement this with in-depth interviews with eight full-time fashion/beauty bloggers. Through this data, we show how topranked bloggers depict the ideal of “having it all” through three interrelated tropes: the destiny of passionate work, staging the glam life, and carefully curated social sharing. Together, these tropes articulate a form of entrepreneurial femininity that draws upon post-feminist sensibilities and the contemporary logic of self-branding. We argue, however, that this socially mediated version of self-enterprise obscures the labor, discipline, and capital necessary to emulate these standards, while deploying the unshakable myth that women should work through and for consumption. We conclude by addressing how these findings are symptomatic of a digital media economy marked by the persistence of social inequalities of gender, race, class, and more.
From Snapshots to Social Media describes the history and future of domestic photography as mediated by technological change. Domestic photography refers to the culture of ordinary people capturing, sharing and using photographs, and is in a particular state of flux today as photos go digital. The book argues that this digital era is the third major chapter in the 170 year history of the area; following the portrait and Kodak eras of the past. History shows that despite huge changes in photographic technology and the way it has been sold, people continue to use photographs to improve memory, support communication and reinforce identity. The future will involve a shift in the balance of these core activities and a replacement of the family album with various multimedia archives for individuals, families and communities. This raises a number of issues that should be taken into account when designing new technologies and business services in this area, including: the ownership and privacy of content, multimedia standards, home ICT infrastructure, and younger and older users of images. The book is a must for designers and engineers of imaging technology and social media who want a better understanding of the history of domestic photography in order to shape its future. It will also be of value to students and researchers in science and technology studies and visual culture, as a fascinating case study of the evolving use of photographs and photographic technology in Western society.
Social theory needs to be radically rethought for a world of digital media and social media platforms driven by data processes. Fifty years after Berger and Luckmann published their classic text The Social Construction of Reality , two leading sociologists of media, Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, revisit the question of how the social world, and our sense of everyday reality, are constructed – that is, made – by human beings.Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp ask: What difference does the deep involvement of digital media, and the data processes on which they rely, make to the type of social world we can inhabit? What difference do ‘media’ make to the types of social order that are possible? And how should we evaluate the consequences for our quality of life?Drawing on a range of theory, from Nobert Elias to Alfred Schütz and Luc Boltanski, and a wide selection of empirical studies, this book will be essential for students and scholars of media. It offers an authoritative account of how the digital world has historically emerged, and where it is now heading.
Kijkeens is a tool for researchers who want to collect data from Twitter and/or Instagram and save it for further analysis. It is designed to run as a background job on a server, continuously polling the respective platform's API for new posts of interest. Posts are either stored in a database or handed off to a queue for delayed processing. The latest version of the tool can be found in this repository:
Assemblage thinking as methodology: commitments and practices for critical policy research. Territory, Politics, Governance. The concept of assemblage has captured the attention of critical social scientists, including those interested in the study of policy. Despite ongoing debate around the implications of assemblage thinking for questions of structure, agency, and contingency, there is widespread agreement around its value as a methodological framework. There are now many accounts using assemblage-inflected methodologies of various sorts as analytical tools for revealing, interpreting, and representing the worlds of policy-making, though few are explicit about their methodological practice. In this paper, we identify a suite of epistemological commitments associated with assemblage thinking, including an emphasis on multiplicity, processuality, labour, and uncertainty, and then consider explicitly how such commitments might be translated into methodological practices in policy research. Drawing on a research project on the development and enactment of homelessness policy in Australia, we explore how three methodological practices – adopting an ethnographic sensibility, tracing sites and situations, and revealing labours of assembling – can be used to operationalize assemblage thinking in light of the challenges of conducting critical policy research.