Who Makes Art on Instagram? Understanding Literacy Representation Through a Case Study of Instagram Photographers

  • Emily Bremers University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Photography has become exceedingly prevalent in Americans’ lives due to social media platforms that rely on photo-sharing. While the public now has increased access via tools and technologies to engage in Photography’s discourse, we do not see an increase in those who are considered literate. To gain an understanding of who is accepted into Photography’s discourse, and, more broadly, how our understanding of literacy does not necessarily represent all literate individuals, ethnographic data was collected from members of Photography’s discourse community. The Photographers discussed who is considered a Photographer, and how increased access affects the community. The study found that increased access does not necessarily result in an increase of individuals who are considered literate, and that the role of gatekeeping is blurred between members and non-members. Inaccurate representations of who is considered a Photographer appear to come from a necessity for Photography to maintain its power by withholding access to its discourse community; if access to a discourse community is increased, acceptance is repressed in order to maintain its power. Additional exploration of this process is necessary to fully grasp who is considered literate.


Author Biography

Emily Bremers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Emily Bremers is studying Microbiology and English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They are interested in literacy studies in both science and English.