Theses Master's

Activism, Aestheticized: Instagram Infographics, Visual Politics, and Online Advocacy

Beard, Avery

This paper discusses the unique visual aesthetics of Instagram infographics alongside their political effects. The researcher analyzes three distinct infographics as well as interviewee responses, finding that aesthetic choices in graphic design communicate concepts to the viewer about the topic represented and serve as important strategies for attracting and maintaining viewer engagement in the attention economy. However, the aesthetics for conveying serious issues do not typically align with attention-grabbing graphic design, sometimes creating a tension between the topic presented and the aesthetic utilized.

Additionally, the research indicates that social media platforms can create unique atmospheres of social pressure, leading viewers to engage with and share information about political topics in ways that they might not have otherwise. However, this initial engagement does not guarantee sustained involvement with or concern for the topic represented in the post. Due to this effect, infographics and other methods of social media activism can serve as useful introductions for viewers to political issues, but should not become a major tenet of activist movements.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Nathan, Andrew J.
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022