Comparative studies in social media photography 
Daniel Miller (University College London (UCL))
Haidy Geismar (University College London)
Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Start time:
31 May, 2014 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel will explore the use of photography within Social Networking Sites using a comparative approach based on fieldsites in ten countries. It will argue for a convergence between this material and anthropology's traditional understanding of persons as in effect `social networking sites'.

Long Abstract

The advent of social media sites such as Facebook, QQ and Instagram have revolutionised the experience of photography for vast populations across the world. Within a few years they have become the single most important and common experience of photography for most people. Furthermore being `social networking sites' they shift photography firmly towards the traditional core of anthropological interest. One possible definition of anthropology is the discipline that treats people, not as individuals, but as `social networking sites.' We therefore need to understand this convergence between visual expression, communication and networking, and see how the integration of photography into the act of social networking facilitates a specifically anthropological approach to photography.

In this panel we are using another core trait of anthropology, that is comparative analysis. We will be looking at photography within Social Networking Sites as used in ethnographic fieldsites across 10 different countries: Brazil, Chile, China (2), India, Italy, Japan, Mongolia, Trinidad, Turkey and the UK. The presenters will previously have spent six months exchanging information with each other as to the respective findings from all the other sites. This means we are in a unique position to consider what usages and traits relate to specific populations, or segments of those populations and which seem to emerge from the particular platforms that have emerged as the leading Social Networking Sites.

Accepted papers: