Street Art, Graffiti, and Instagram

The modern digitalized world provides humanity with a plethora of social media resources by which a user might search and consume diversified information. Nowadays, each intelligent citizen tends to be an active part of society by expressing his position or supporting somebody else’s one. Hence, platforms and methods that may give such an opportunity are a relevant issue to discover. For a considerable period, street art and graffiti have been one of the most popular ways to express one’s protest and proclamation. The platform allowing such social practices to be noticed and followed by an immense number of people is Instagram. Thus, the interaction and interdependence between street art, graffiti, and Instagram, as well as research possibilities that Instagram provides, might be important aspects to study.

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Street art and graffiti may be considered as unique forms of media because young marginals use public places such as walls and streets to be heard, recognized, and to make an impact on public opinion (MacDowall & de Souza, 2018, p. 7). To that end, they need a tool involving big audiences, using which can let their works go viral. Instagram already had 400 million users in 2015, which emphasizes its global nature and significant potential as an instrument for the distribution of one’s creativeness and ideas (MacDowall et al., 2018, p. 11). This program has become an essential thing for today’s active Internet users to consume an aesthetic visual content and be creators of one. So, including references to Instagram into street art and graffiti has become a routine practice to get instant feedback and “solicit further contact” from the target audience (MacDowall et al., 2018, p. 11).

For the past recent years, social media platforms have drawn considerable attention from scholars who investigate interactions between online-generated content and social shifts. However, textual social media platforms are more likely to be discovered if to compare with visual ones, which may result in obscuring the potential value of Instagram as a tool for empirical research (MacDowall et al., 2018, p. 17). Moreover, MacDowall et al. (2018) suggest that Instagram is not only a “seductive” source for “objective quantification of cultural processes” but also a phenomenon that reshapes audiences’ perceptions of diversified social and political aspects (p. 17). Thus, the scholars argue that Instagram has no essential difference from “the cultural formations to which it promises access” (MacDowall et al., 2018, p. 19).

The argument about the new interdependence between street art, graffiti, and Instagram might be quite convincible. Nevertheless, MacDowall et al. (2018) may overvalue Instagram as a universal social media platform that may provide scholars with an immense range of research data. Instagram’s architecture does not allow researchers to structure flows of visual content into a concrete object of their studies as the program functions under algorithms adopted for mobile devices and individual tastes. However, the algorithms themselves, such as privacy policy and intellectual property rights, are Instagram’s metadata that might be a subject for scholar investigations. So, the above mentioned may lead to the assumption that despite Instagram provides a substantial amount of information to consume, it can be a credible source for academic research yet within the scope of its metadata.

In conclusion, it seems reasonable to assume that street art and graffiti are unique forms of media that allow modern youth to claim their protests. The social media platform allowing them to get feedback and gain popularity is Instagram. It was argued that Instagram has a considerable impact on users’ perceptions of different aspects of modern life. Despite this, the mobile media might not be a credible source for scholars to research out the scope of its metadata.


MacDowall, L. J., & de Souza, P. (2018). ‘I’d Double Tap That!!’: street art, graffiti, and Instagram research. Media, Culture & Society, 40(1), 3–22.

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