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All Eyes On Visuals and Digital Politics: Current State of Research

Sat, August 31, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Hilton, Gunston East

Abstract

Uses of still and moving-image content for political communication, mobilization, and organizing in the social mediascape have intensified and diversified over the last decade. On one hand, established political elites have turned to different social media tools - including Instagram and Snapchat - to reach out to and engage with members of civil society. On the other hand, members of the public have deployed novel strategies to express themselves and be active politically through these platforms. In a context where most scholarly works on digital political communication take interest on textual data, researchers studying dynamics of visual political communication on social media face ongoing and multifaceted challenges. Among them include finding existing or new theoretical frameworks to study the role of visuals in digital political communication as well as developing and perfecting methodological instruments to harvest, store, and analyze visual content. They are also facing issues relating to big data, including the exhaustive collection and analysis of larger volumes of political information. This paper offers a scoping review of academic literature on this emerging and constantly evolving area of research. Specifically, it enables to identify and unpack key axes of study. This approach also helps to pinpoint trending research questions and methodologies as well as to isolate research opportunities within this still understudied field. This paper is of interest to students, practitioners, and researchers wanting to know more about digital political communication and visuals or to orient their work around visual topics.

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