Photography: using Instagram in participant-led field studies

Harriet L. Shortt, Sam Warren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter we discuss how Instagram can be employed as a tool through which researchers may gather visual data during participant-led field studies, as well as how the images available from such platforms usefully shed light on the everydayness and materiality of working life. Indeed, social media is now an established, growing and ever-advancing technological revolution and one, therefore, visual researchers need to keep pace with. Here, we consider the pragmatic elements of using Instagram in a research study, including data collection, the complexities of participants’ attitudes to social media and how these might impact researchers’ work. We also suggest analytical techniques to make sense of Instagram posts as visual data and consider the ethical issues and challenges of this emerging kind of research. In order to illustrate these elements, we draw on our own research practice - a field study, exploring the post-occupancy evaluation of a UK Business School building. The use of Instagram was part of the research design in this study and we hope our reflections and guidance in this chapter will enable readers to make practical and well-informed methodological choices when considering the use of social media for their own research studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUsing Arts-based Research Methods
Subtitle of host publicationCreative Approaches for Researching Business, Organisation and Humanities
EditorsJenna Ward, Harriet Shortt
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-33069-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-33068-2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Business, Arts and Humanities
ISSN (Print)2662-1266
ISSN (Electronic)2662-1274


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