Lucía Caro-Castaño e-mail(Login required)

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Lucía Caro-Castaño e-mail(Login required)

Abstract

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This paper explores and describes how Colombian and Spanish young people present themselves on Instagram according to the social game and the symbolic capital that they infer as normative from influencers. The methodology used combines the focus group technique (seven groups) with a content analysis of the profiles of the informants (N = 651). In total, 53 first-year creative industries university students participated. The results show that the work developed by the influencers has given rise to an aspirational narrative genre that young people tend to emulate according to the Instagram habitus in order to be recognised as leading players. Their self-presentation has three main features: a) a preference for showing ‘in-classifying’ practices such as leisure and tastes for freedom; b) the predominance of a specific type of profile and gestures that avoids self-production markers and aspires towards a global audience; and c) the normalisation of self-promotional discourse. Most informants experience Instagram as a game in which they compete to accumulate visibility conceived as relational validation, although in the case of Colombian informants there is a more professional outlook towards the platform. Finally, for all of them, Instagram constitutes a serious game, and many of them admit to feeling too exposed. As a result, they have implemented self-surveillance practices, such as consulting with peers before posting photographs, using secondary accounts and deleting posts.

Keywords

Social media, identity, influencers, aspirational work, swlf-surveillance, self-promotion, creative industries

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