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Social Media Mothering on Instagram: A Visual Analysis

Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Degree Name

Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

First Advisor

Kelly Concannon, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Janine Morris, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Juliette Kitchens, Ph.D.


This thesis explores how four social media influencers (SMIs) depict their experiences with motherhood on Instagram. The study utilizes methods from Barthes’s “Rhetoric of the Image” to evaluate patterns in literal and symbolic messages found in the images and captions posted by the SMIs over the time period of a month. These patterns are analyzed for the ideologies connotated by the images. This research finds that the symbolic messages present in the influencers’ images serve to reproduce the ideologies of intensive mothering and postfeminism. Further, these ideologies are used to commoditize the SMIs’ accounts via paid advertisements. The SMIs are able to monetize their accounts in this way because they depict themselves as authentic and relatable to audiences. This thesis concludes by considering the impact this reproduction of intensive mothering and postfeminism may have on women’s mental health and social status, and it offers suggestions for further research.

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