Elisenda Ardèvol, Gemma San Cornelio and Sandra Martorell presented a paper on Ecoinfluencers on Instagram; Visual Activism and the Environmental Crisis in the 15th ESA Conference in the panel Media, Climate Change and Environmental Crisis.
The paper presents an ongoing digital ethnography based research among environmental activists on social media. Particularly, our focus is on Instagram accounts related to climate change, and sustainable and ecologically responsible consumption in order to analise the interwoven of personal narratives and visual imagery in these forms of digital activism.
One the one hand, we suggest that there is a hybridization between activism, consumption and lifestyle based on an emerging figure that we call ‘environmental influencer’ or ‘ecoinfluencer’. We discuss how this figure can be controversial as it merges personal concern with collective action and an emergent market. This “new” activism based on personal narratives challenge prior conceptions of social movements and activism based in collective protest.
On the other hand, we focus on the increasing importance of visual activism in social media. Far for considering visual activism refer to concrete artistic practices in favor of certain causes, and contrary to a negative perception of the image as a banalisation of political action, our proposal, based on our observation and in-depth interviews, is that imagery plays a pedagogical role for mobilizing and engaging people in social changing processes. We discuss ho visual narratives articulate moder mithologies regarding the end of the world and the culture/nature relation.
We conclude that ecoinfluencers represent a new form of digital activism that use Instagram visual aesthetics as part of their personal choice to contribute to the environmental cause by using mithodological narratives and by exposing one’s own experience and example to promote a sustainable lifestyle as a political action.