Modern traditionalists? Content analysis of photos published by Instamatches on Instagram in the light of the concept of displaying families




Małgorzata Gawrońska

Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw

A sociologist, graduate of the MISH Collegium of the University of Warsaw and a doctoral student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences of the University of Warsaw. In her academic work, she focuses on issues in the sociology of family life, including social contexts of motherhood and childbearing. Manager of the project "White market. Institutionalisation of Human Milk Sharing Practices in Europe" funded by NCN within the Prelude 20 competition. She is preparing a dissertation on the social and cultural aspects of human milk sharing. Associated with the Breast Milk Bank Foundation.

Justyna Pokojska

Dr. Justyna Pokojska

DELab UW analyst
DELab UW, Faculty of Sociology UW

Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Warsaw. Coordinator of the 'Jobs and Skills for the Future' program in DELab UW. Member of the Civic Congress Programme Council, Expert of the Future Industry Platform Foundation. In 2022, she was on the list of "Tomronauts" of Gazeta Wyborcza and Kulczyk Foundation, presenting people who already today implement the ideas of the future and face the most important questions facing our civilization. Two-time scholarship holder of the Minister of Science and Higher Education.

Her research interests focus on the area of digital competences and new professions of the future. She analyses the labour market from a female perspective and disseminates her research findings to combat inequalities and occupational stereotypes.

Since 2015, she has been associated with DELab UW, where she carries out projects for partners from the socio-economic environment (e.g. Google, Digital University, Women's Entrepreneurship Foundation, Warsaw Banking Institute, Orange, combining academic knowledge with a business approach.

Host of "Efekt Sieci" program on Radio Kampus (also available on Spotify), in which she discusses digital transformation and its consequences for the labor market, interpersonal relations, and the condition of the individual in the world of new technological challenges. She has been a regular guest on radio programmes (e.g. TOK FM, Radio Nowy Świat, Radio Zet, Czwórka, Polskie Radio) and TV programmes (TVN24, Polsat), author in the Opinions section of Forbes Magazine.

Natalia Fiedorczuk

Natalia Fiedorczuk

Psychoeducator, composer, singer, writer and scriptwriter by profession. She works as a cultural animator, dealing with civic activation in local communities. She writes about music, the internet, aesthetics and housing. In 2016, the publishing house Wielka Litera published her debut novel, "Jak pokochać centra handlowe", for which she received the Polityka Passport. The prose debut grows out of the author's personal experiences of motherhood and postnatal depression, but goes beyond them, becoming a record of personality disintegration. Chairperson of the Council of the Girls in Spectrum Foundation, an organisation created by self-advocates to support girls and LGBT+ people on the autism spectrum.


Analyst DELab UW

The aim of the pro­ject was to ana­ly­se nor­ma­ti­ve pat­terns of mother­ho­od and its visu­al repre­sen­ta­tions, as well as domi­nant mater­nal disco­ur­ses on Insta­gram. The the­ore­ti­cal fra­me­work and metho­do­lo­gi­cal inspi­ra­tion for the stu­dy was the con­cept of display­ing fami­lies by Janet Finch, which is rooted in the para­digm of prac­ti­ce the­ory and assu­mes the impe­ra­ti­ve of demon­stra­ting fami­ly­ho­odin the pro­cess of its «pro­duc­tion» and obta­ining social legitimacy.

In this stu­dy, I con­duc­ted a quali­ta­ti­ve con­tent ana­ly­sis with semio­tic ele­ments to ana­ly­ze the 100 most popu­lar ima­ges out of 1,724 pho­to­gra­phs publi­shed by a selec­tion of ten popu­lar paren­ting influ­en­cers – Insta­mo­thers – over a period of six mon­ths. In order to select the sam­ple, for five days, from 30 March to 3 April 2020, I obse­rved selec­ted hash­tagsused by Insta­mat­ches on Insta­gram. Of the pro­fi­les that posted at least one pho­to tag­ged with at least one selec­ted hash­tagduring the obse­rva­tion period, I selec­ted the ten most popu­lar, exc­lu­ding pro­fi­les of cele­bri­ties and public figu­res known for the­ir acti­vi­ties other than in the social media spa­ce. Next, all the pho­to­gra­phs ava­ila­ble on the selec­ted pro­fi­les, which were posted six mon­ths back, were coded accor­ding to the date of publi­ca­tion, the num­ber of likes and com­ments, and the people depic­ted. In this way, I col­lec­ted 1724 pho­to­gra­phs, from among which I selec­ted the 10 most popu­lar ones from each pro­fi­le, and the selec­ted hun­dred pho­to­gra­phs were sub­jec­ted to quali­ta­ti­ve ana­ly­sis with ele­ments of semiology.

The way of selec­ting the sam­ple resul­ted from using the con­cept of display­ing fami­lies also as a metho­do­lo­gi­cal inspi­ra­tion. I assu­med, in accor­dan­ce with the assump­tions of this con­cept, that the effec­ti­ve­ness of display­ing depends on social­ly reco­gni­sed meanings ascri­bed to the demon­stra­ted prac­ti­ces, and thus the reac­tion they evo­ke in obse­rvers plays an impor­tant role in this pro­cess. I assu­med that the most popu­lar Insta­mo­thers, being suc­cess­ful, expres­sed in the num­ber of likes and fol­lo­wers of the­ir pro­fi­les, con­duct effec­ti­ve display­ing of the­ir mater­nal prac­ti­ces, i.e. they demon­stra­te mother­ho­od accor­ding to nor­ma­ti­ve pat­terns, and that the ima­ges that aro­use the gre­atest appro­val of Insta­gram users pre­sent the most domi­nant ima­ges of mother­ho­od (hen­ce the metho­do­lo­gi­cal deci­sion to ana­ly­se the pho­to­gra­phs with the highest num­ber of likes).

The stu­dy con­duc­ted in this way does not, of cour­se, allow us to answer the question of what mother­ho­od of Insta­mo­thersactu­al­ly looks like. The the­ore­ti­cal per­spec­ti­ve adop­ted, howe­ver, made it possi­ble to look at the col­lec­ted pho­to­gra­phs from a bro­ader per­spec­ti­ve – thro­ugh the prism of the meanings they pro­du­ce and repro­du­ce and the domi­nant disco­ur­ses in which they are entan­gled. Three main conc­lu­sions emer­ge from the stu­dy. Fir­stly, the display­ingof popu­lar Insta­mo­therswas stron­gly cor­re­la­ted with nor­ma­ti­ve exter­nal fac­tors, such as the fami­ly model in which mother­ho­od is reali­sed (the tra­di­tio­nal hete­ro­nor­ma­ti­ve fami­ly model domi­na­ted here), or the way in which other roles were play­ed out in the fami­ly (e.g. the role of the father). Secon­dly, the col­lec­ted mate­rial indi­ca­tes the repro­duc­tion of the tra­di­tio­nal divi­sion of roles in the fami­ly (both at the level of repre­sen­ta­tions of parents and chil­dren) and the repro­duc­tion of gen­der ste­reo­ty­pes. Thir­dly, the vision of mother­ho­od pre­sen­ted by Insta­mo­thersas the cen­tral point in a woma­n’s life, being a sour­ce of joy and ful­fil­ment despi­te dif­fi­cul­ties, to some extent fits the figu­re of the Polish Mother, with simul­ta­ne­ous impo­si­tion of new pres­su­res on mothers con­nec­ted with the pur­su­it of per­fectful­fil­ment of this role, inc­lu­ding taking care of home spa­ce arran­ge­ment and phy­si­cal attractiveness.

A series of English-language meetings to present the results of research in the field of digitisation, conducted by researchers from European Union countries.

The seminars are an excellent opportunity to learn about topics undertaken at foreign universities and to discuss them with invited guests. Due to their interactive form, they are also an opportunity to build cooperation between Polish and foreign research centres. Past seminars can be found on the DELab UW website.

Fundacja Koalicja na rzecz Polskich Innowacji
Build Up Your Future Conference - Faculty of Economic Sciences UW Student Representative Office
Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw
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