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Visualizing What’s Social: Research and Methodological Approaches

20.01.2022 19:49 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

ICA Pre-conference 2022

May 26, 2022 (12:30-17:00)

On-site and online

Submission Deadline: February 14, 2022

ICA Visual Communication division website is here

Results Released March 1

Division Affiliation: Visual Communication Studies Division, Popular Media and Culture Division, and Computational Methods Division.

Organizer Contact: Mary A. Bock,


Social media are visual media. Every day, users upload billions of photos and hundreds of thousands of hours of video to the internet, and media producers are encouraged to use still and moving images to attract viewers (Evelith, 2015). Images document the lives of ordinary people, celebrities and pets. They are also used to inform, persuade and deceive. Exploring the role of the visual online and in pop culture is essential to understanding the nature of social media.

Yet images are often harder to research than text. They pose methodological challenges in terms of data collection and analysis, and are therefore left out of many analyses of social media. Considering that images are cognitively and emotionally more powerful than words alone, this is problematic.

This Pre-Conference is designed to maximize dialogue about researching visuality in social media among scholars at all career levels, including students, early-career, mid-career and senior scholars. Students and early-career scholars will have the opportunity to present research and works-in-progress for feedback from mid-career and senior scholars. A session is planned for mid-career and senior scholars to present their research. The event will conclude with a methods workshop focusing on techniques and strategies for researching visuality in social media. To that end, we invite extended abstracts of no more than 2,500 words pertaining to, but not limited to, the following topics:

Celebrity: How is celebrity represented and visually constructed on social media? In contrast, how are the quotidian and banal aspects of life represented and visually constructed in such contexts?

Technology: How has the ubiquity of higher-quality cameras and editing software/apps changed the way non-professional users are able to brand themselves or construct themselves as “celebrities” or influencers? Which techniques of visual production are used in social media? Which techniques are tied to old media, and which might represent new forms of visual communication?

Methods: What methods, technologies, and tools are being developed that can assist researchers in the study of images and video on social media? How might researchers adapt existing systems for social media analysis? What sort of automated or big data analyses might best be employed by visual researchers? Where might those analyses be limited compared to small data projects? What challenges do visuals pose for social media researchers, and how might they be overcome?

Optics: What differences exist between video and still imagery online and in social media? What about graphic design, such as animated GIFs? Are there differences in the way the forms are deployed online? How are optical, audio and editing techniques employed in social media?

Semiotics: What sorts of signs predominate on social media? How are they understood, used, or constructed by users? How have signs evolved?

Narrative: How do developments of ephemeral “story” sharing, live-streaming and other similar social media features change the nature of storytelling and representation online? What stories emerge from the mixing and matching shared audio tracks with video and imagery?


The pre-conference will include three events:

  • A poster session for the students and emerging scholars with mentoring from mid-career and senior scholars
  • A research session for up to five of the mid-career and senior scholars who served as mentors for the poster session
  • A computational research methods workshop

The poster session will allow students and early-career scholars to display their research and works-in-progress for feedback from the mentor scholars.

The traditional research session will allow the mentoring scholars to present research.

In the methods workshop session, students, early-career, mid-career and senior scholars confer together on research methods for visual data collection and analysis. In this workshop, all pre-conference participants will discuss methodological approaches for visual data collection and analysis in current networked media environments and avenues and guidelines for best practices — as well as any ethical concerns that arise in the course of such research.

This pre-conference will be designed as a hybrid to maximize opportunities for participation. It will use video conferencing as necessary to enable remote engagement.

If the pre-conference needs to be moved fully online because of COVID-19, we will adapt to a fully virtual format and organize synchronous mentoring and workshop sessions (grouped according to time zones) over Zoom.

How to participate/register

Click here to submit to the pre-conference

Registration is open to all and will be available at a later date.

The fee to attend is $30.

We encourage students, early-career scholars and those from the Global Majority to participate. A limited number of waivers will be available.



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