Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures

Instagram book cover

Tama Leaver, Tim Highfield, & Crystal Abidin, 2020; Polity (Digital Media and Society series)

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Instagram is at the heart of global digital culture, having made selfies and filters an inescapable part of everyday life since 2010.

In the first book-length examination of Instagram, Tama Leaver, Tim Highfield and Crystal Abidin trace how this mobile photography app has developed as a platform and a culture. They consider the new visual social media aesthetics, the rise of Influencers and new visual economies, the complex politics of the platform, and examine how Instagram’s users have changed their use of the platform over time to respond to evolving features. The book highlights how different subcultural groups use Instagram, and how various public spaces and businesses of all kinds are reshaping their landscape and services to be ‘Insta-worthy’. Far from just capturing moments, the authors argue that Instagram has altered the ways people communicate and share, while also creating new approaches to marketing, advertising, politics and the design of spaces.

Rich with grounded examples from around the world, Instagram is essential reading for student, scholars and practitioners of media and communication.


  1. Platform
  2. Aesthetics
  3. Ecologies
  4. Economies
  5. Cultures
  6. Lifespans
  7. From the Instagram of Everything to the Everything of Instagram


“In this wonderfully rich, thoughtful and entertaining book, three leading scholars have given us a detailed account of Instagram’s history, culture and politics, as well as much-needed conceptual tools to understand the increasingly visual world of social media.” – Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology

“This book brings together three accomplished scholars of visual internet culture to provide a comprehensive overview of Instagram as a platform, culture and marketplace. This will be an essential reference for internet studies and visual studies.” – Jill Walker Rettberg, University of Bergen

More information to come; follow @polityinstabook for the latest…