A1 Journal article (refereed)
‘I shared the joy’ : sport-related social support and communality on Instagram (2020)

Ehrlén, V., & Villi, M. (2020). ‘I shared the joy’ : sport-related social support and communality on Instagram. Visual studies, 35(2-3), 260-272. https://doi.org/10.1080/1472586X.2020.1790304

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ehrlén, Veera; Villi, Mikko

Journal or series: Visual studies

ISSN: 1472-586X

eISSN: 1472-5878

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 35

Issue number: 2-3

Pages range: 260-272

Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1472586X.2020.1790304

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71231


The popularity of sharing photographs on digital platforms has increased significantly due to the communicative affordances of mobile media and the emergence of photo-sharing applications, such as Instagram. In this paper, we examine how social support and communality can be built and reinforced through digital visual communication. We focus especially on photo sharing in the context of recreational climbing and trail running. In a qualitative study with Finnish climbers and runners, we asked what meanings sports practitioners ascribe to the practice of sharing and observed how they communicate these meanings through photographs. The results indicate that different types of visual content build and reinforce communality in distinct ways. Whereas inspirational photographs drive practitioners to explore, motivational photographs pull practitioners to keep going through goal setting and peer support. We conclude that visual communication on Instagram mediates a stream of momentary encounters between practitioners that merge into communally meaningful experiences. Thus, we assert that in the context of recreational sport subcultures, photo sharing not only facilitates social relationships but can be perceived as a meaningful social practice that is integral to reinforcing physical activity.

Keywords: photographs; visual communication; online services; online communities; social media; athletes; social support; communality; motivation (mental objects); inspiration; Instagram

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-17-06 at 12:01