In recent years activist groups are increasingly relying on digital platforms to amplify political goals. Accordingly, scholarly attention has been paid to the various practices of mediation through hashtags, sharing, liking, engaging with followers, and posting. Thus, social media platforms afford participation and creation of an alternative public space for the amplification of messages. From its inception, the Black Lives Matter movement has been connected to the digital sphere and made its goal to combat racial violence across the globe. Social movements like Black Lives Matter have used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to disseminate hegemonic discourses about police brutality and reinforce counter-discourses of police brutality Specifically, this study focuses on selected Instagram posts that address cases of police brutality from the Black Lived Matter movement and corresponding user-generated content from the years 2020-2022. The scholarly research on digital activism practices of the Black Lives Matter movement via the platform Instagram and the creation of counter-activist narratives through visual affordance provides the analytical focus of this study. This dissertation seeks to provide an answer to the research question: How does the Black Lives Matter movement mediate digital activism practices on Instagram towards cases involving police brutality? To conduct this research, this study employs the method of multimodal discourse analysis to analyze Instagram posts addressing police brutality. The study adopts a combination of the following theories: hashtag tagged activism practices, networked public and affective solidarity, to shed light on the dominant understandings of digital activism practices that rely on textual affordances of digital platforms. Thus, showing that in the case of the Black Lives Matter movement. Instagram can be used to disseminate knowledge about racial violence and to construct counter-discourses of police brutality. The results of the analysis identify seven patterns of discursive practices enacted by the Black Lives Matter movement and their followers that together amplify the creation of alternative narratives of police brutality. Namely, demands for justice, killer cops, and mobilization of anger and grief to build awareness of systematic police brutality. The findings of this study contribute to the emerging social movement research on the Black Lives Matter movement and the affordances of the platform Instagram for their digital activism practices. The study concludes that Instagram as a platform shows significant potential for discursive resistance and dissemination of knowledge around police brutality.

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Dr. Debora Antunes
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Sara Korhonen. (2022, June 27). How the Black Lives Matter movement mediates digital activism practices on Instagram towards cases involving police brutality. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from