#Funeral and Instagram: death, social media, and platform vernacular

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Information Communication and Society, 2015, 18 (3), pp. 255 - 268
Issue Date:
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© 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis. This paper presents findings from a study of Instagram use and funerary practices that analysed photographs shared on public profiles tagged with ‘#funeral’. We found that the majority of images uploaded with the hashtag #funeral often communicated a person's emotional circumstances and affective context, and allowed them to reposition their funeral experience amongst wider networks of acquaintances, friends, and family. We argue that photo-sharing through Instagram echoes broader shifts in commemorative and memorialization practices, moving away from formal and institutionalized rituals to informal and personalized, vernacular practices. Finally, we consider how Instagram's ‘platform vernacular’ unfolds in relation to traditions and contexts of death, mourning, and memorialization. This research contributes to a broader understanding of how platform vernaculars are shaped through the logics of architecture and use. This research also directly contributes to the understanding of death and digital media by examining how social media is being mobilized in relation to death, the differences that different media platforms make, and the ways social media are increasingly entwined with the places, events, and rituals of mourning.
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