What is it about?

This study analyses the unique characteristics of Instagram to explore the representation of migrants during the 2018 #MigrantCaravan in two languages and considering the opinions of posters. It considers specific aspects of the platform such as the option to follow hashtags, the political significance of its user base, and the use of the wall as a symbol to construct migrants and migratory behaviours to support specific ideological and communicative aims. Although Instagram is considered a self-representation platform, the voice of the migrant is absent from the narrative.

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Why is it important?

It is important because Instagram's user base (18-24 years old) is significant in electoral terms, as they are first and second-time voters who consume information through this platform and whose opinions and behaviours are affected by their views on issues such as immigration. Our findings suggest that the majority of representations show the migrant and the migratory experience as separate and different from that of the poster across opinions. In this case, images are used as tools to construct narratives beyond what is visually represented and in many cases opposing opinions use the same image to support conflicting accounts.


Although this article explores a topic that has been thoroughly analysed in the literature (migrant representations), its focus is innovative because Instagram is mainly used by younger generations whose news consumption and information-seeking patterns are different from those of previous generations. It explores the significance of representation in the context of a new medium. Instagram is a medium that remains new because it is constantly changing and providing new ways to interact with content, the article explores all the ways in which Instagram resembles other platforms and its significance as a place for constructing, expressing and sharing political opinions.

Daniela Jaramillo-Dent
Universidad de Huelva

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: #MigrantCaravan: The border wall and the establishment of otherness on Instagram, New Media & Society, December 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1461444819894241.
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