Applied Digital Sociology

Public Group active 3 days, 19 hours ago

Book Launch Event: ON DISPLAY, Instagram, the Self, & the City

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    Jessie Daniels

    Please come to this discussion and book launch for digital sociologist John D. Boy (Leiden University, NL and graduate of the GC), where he will be in conversation with John Torpey and Jessie Daniels.

    When: Monday, 5 Feb 2024, 4:15pm-6pm

    Where: The Graduate Center (GC), Ralph Bunche Institute, Room 5203 (in person only)

    Getting into the GC: Building Entry Policy

    RSVP: here

    About the book: Two billion people around the world use Instagram, but so far social scientists have done little research on the platform. Despite Instagram’s reputation for shallowness, the ongoing self-presentation it demands confronts users with profound dilemmas. Who are we? What do we want to show of ourselves? What do we aspire to be?

    On Display is a book about how people remake their worlds through social media. John D. Boy and Justus Uitermark provide an encompassing account of how a platform that is unfailingly polished and ruthlessly judgmental shapes us and our environments. They examine how personalities, relations, social movements, urban subcultures, and city streets change as they are represented on Instagram. Interviews and ethnographic vignettes render an intimate account of the desires and anxieties that animate the platform. Just as importantly, Boy and Uitermark reveal how Instagram is implicated in social inequalities.

    While previous accounts have argued that social media promote polarization, On Display  shows that this is not the case for Instagram where users belong to large and diverse networks, compelling them to take many, often contradictory expectations into account. This means users shy away from producing statements or images that may cause offense as a way to preserve their public image and their social connections. Drawing on sociological theory, long-term qualitative inquiry in Amsterdam, and computational analyses, Boy and Uitermark argue that grasping the power of Instagram—and other social media platforms—requires seeing them not as digital networks of communication and sharing, but as a stage for the expression and affirmation of social status.

    John D. Boy is a tenured assistant professor of sociology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he coordinates the d12n Research Cluster. His research employs a wide range of research methods, including participant observation, computational techniques, and interviews, and contributes to interdisciplinary social-scientific literature on the interface between digital technologies and social life spanning sociology, anthropology, urban studies, and media studies. He is the co-author, with Justus Uitermark, on On Display: Instagram, the Self, and the City (OUP, 2024). After several years of studying a commercial platform, he recently began research on how critical technologists imagine the future of digital infrastructure. He is affiliated with Leiden University’s Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology as well as the Center for BOLD Cities at the Leiden–Delft–Erasmus (LDE) interuniversity consortium. Prior to joining Leiden University, John was a postdoctoral researcher in sociology at the University of Amsterdam, and he received his Ph.D. in sociology (with a certificate in women’s studies) from the City University of New York in 2015.

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