Social Media and Everyday Politics

It’s my book, and it’s out now! Full information is available here, and please feel free to contact me about anything related to it — and if you like it, please review it and encourage people to take a look! If you order it from Wiley, you can get a 20% discount too — use the code PY720 when checking out.

Where can I buy the book?

It’s in actual bookstores! This page has a list of bookstores known to have copies in store (or in their online catalogues), which includes stores in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, the UK, and the USA! Plus, if you’re in Brisbane, there may be a signed copy left at Avid Reader in West End! And of course there are the online options of Amazon and Book Depository, as well as direct from Polity and Wiley.

The book at Avid Reader, West End (Brisbane)


The latest thing (November 2016):

Visualising the ends of identity: pre-birth and post-death on Instagram, by Tama Leaver and me, is now out (online first) in Information, Communication & Society and based on the paper we presented at IR16 in Phoenix (October 2015):

Abstract: This paper examines two ‘ends’ of identity online – birth and death – through the analytical lens of specific hashtags on the Instagram platform. These ends are examined in tandem in an attempt to surface commonalities in the way that individuals use visual social media when sharing information about other people. A range of emerging norms in digital discourses about birth and death are uncovered, and it is significant that in both cases the individuals being talked about cannot reply for themselves. Issues of agency in representation therefore frame the analysis. After sorting through a number of entry points, images and videos with the #ultrasound and #funeral hashtags were tracked for three months in 2014. Ultrasound images and videos on Instagram revealed a range of communication and representation strategies, most highlighting social experiences and emotional peaks. There are, however, also significant privacy issues as a significant proportion of public accounts share personally identifiable metadata about the mother and unborn child, although these issue are not apparent in relation to funeral images. Unlike other social media platforms, grief on Instagram is found to be more about personal expressions of loss rather than affording spaces of collective commemoration. A range of related practices and themes, such as commerce and humour, were also documented as a part of the spectrum of activity on the Instagram platform. Norms specific to each collection emerged from this analysis, which are then compared to document research about other social media platforms, especially Facebook.

Leaver, T., & Highfield, T. (2016). Visualising the ends of identity: pre-birth and post-death on Instagram. Information, Communication & Society. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2016.1259343

Talks and media

Media from June 2016:

30 June 2016 — I was on Drive on Radio National (Australia) to talk about social media and the Australian federal election with Patricia Karvelas

I was also interviewed about 10 hour videos by Abby Ohlheiser for The Washington Post article ‘The mesmerizing lost art of the 10-hour YouTube loop, 2011’s weirdest video trend


Writing from May 2016:

‘Waiving (hash)flags: Some thoughts on Twitter hashtag emoji’ on Medium

‘Covering the election beyond our memes: what role for visual politics and social media?’ on The Conversation


On 16 April I gave a talk at Theorizing the Web — “On (the) loop: The animated GIF and cultural logics of repetition”, which you can watch here (the full session is in this video, with all the great talks, and I am the last presenter starting at around 49’30):

Late last year, I gave an interview to CBC radio’s Spark program, on Twitter parody accounts and news value, which can be heard here!

Meanwhile, in November 2015 I contributed a piece on wordplay and social media memes to the ‘Festival of Memeology’ at Culture Digitally, organized by Jean Burgess and Ryan Milner and also featuring pieces from some awesome meme and digital culture scholars (including Kate Miltner, Whitney Phillips, and Limor Shifman, among others); my piece is here: ‘On Hashtaggery and Portmanteaugraphy: Memetic Wordplay as Social Media Practice‘; and the whole series is here.


Recent journal articles

Brand new for April 2016 is ‘Instagrammatics and digital methods: studying visual social media, from selfies and GIFs to memes and emoji’, from Tama Leaver and myself in a special Digital Methods issue of Communication Research and Practice, also featuring several colleagues from QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre; our article is here, and the full issue is here (email me if you have paywall issues and would like to see a preprint).

Published at the end of 2015, the article Sky Croeser and I wrote based on our Mapping Movements research into Greek activists and digital media came out in Fibreculture: ‘Harbouring dissent: Greek independent and social media and the antifascist movement’. It is open-access and available here!

Also open-access is my article examining Twitter humour, within the context of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal — this article, Tweeted joke lifespans and appropriated punch lines: Practices around topical humor on social media’, is in the International Journal of Communication and can be found here!


Recent book chapters

A few new books have come out in 2015 and early 2016 that feature co-authored pieces by myself and colleagues — full publication details and purchasing links are available here.

First, Sky Croeser and I have a Mapping Movements chapter in 2015’s Compromised Data: From Social Media to Big Data, edited by Ganaele Langlois, Joanna Redden, and Greg Elmer and published by Bloomsbury — it’s based on our paper at the Compromised Data? symposium in Toronto in 2013.

Also from 2015, Axel Bruns and I have a chapter (‘From News Blogs to News on Twitter: Gatewatching and Collaborative News Curation’) in Stephen Coleman and Deen Freelon’s edited collection Handbook of Digital Politics, from Edward Elgar.

Indeed, Axel and I have a few pieces out at the moment: we have an English-language piece on the 2012 US Presidential election and Twitter in the mostly-German collection Die US-Präsidentschaftswahl 2012: Analysen der Politik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, edited by Christoph Bieber and Klaus Kamps, and published by Springer (and based on research presented at re:publica in 2013).

Finally, in the new massive volume The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (edited by Axel, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen), we have two co-authored chapters, one on the public sphere and social media (‘Is Habermas on Twitter?’) and one synthesizing our extensive research into Australian elections and social media (‘Compulsory voting, encouraged tweeting?’).



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