The use of hashtags on social media platforms allow users to navigate vast repositories of information with ease – hashtags technologically mediate as they both enable and shape user experience. This research focuses on the photo-sharing platform of Instagram and the phenomenon of dietary hashtags (DH: singular; DHs: plural) – for example, #healthy, #glutenfree, #vegan, and #whole30. The circulation of these hashtags is analyzed to explore if and how they can influence users’ understanding of diets and eating practices.
The study uses Actor Network theory to describe the performances and impacts of DHs within a technologically mediated space of social media. Through experimenting with the walkthrough method and an Instagram narrative model, the thesis observes discursive associations in dietary-related Instagram content. Sample case studies look at the ways in which Instagram has enlarged the sphere of possible associations, which consequently alter food and diet related acts.