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Open Access Political communication in an age of visual connectivity: Exploring Instagram practices among Swedish politicians

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This article explores the specific features of Instagram as a platform for visual political communication. Drawing on theories of mediatization and celebrity politics, it analyses how various forms of symbolic connectivity are expressed and performed by sixteen leading politicians in Sweden, and moreover how their social media use relates to news media. The study leans on a content analysis (n=800) and results show that journalism still holds a strong symbolic value, even when politicians are in charge of the political discourse. In addition, it reveals how the platform logic of Instagram contributes to the formation of digital lifestyle politics, where symbolic connections between politicians and a variety of actors are staged through new mediatized relations. Visual political communication does inherit a democratic and interactive potential. However, according to the analysed data, most politicians avoid public interaction. Instead, they are preoccupied with the branding of their public persona.

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Keywords: Instagram; Sweden; celebrity politics; journalism; political communication; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Örebro University 2: Stockholm University

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook was first published in 2002 and places particular emphasis on film, television and new media. The yearbook, although carrying a theme each issue, welcomes a broad range of articles along with shorter review pieces.
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