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Julia Sonnevend, Olivia Steiert: The Power of Predictability: How Angela Merkel Constructed Her Authenticity on Instagram

“Instead of shaping her online persona according to the traditions and style of Instagram, Merkel attempted to bend Instagram to host her unique persona,” our Research Affiliate Julia Sonnevend and her PhD student Olivia Steiert write in New Media & Society.

“Attention-seeking personal profiles on social media increasingly define successful political communication. But Angela Merkel, during her 16-year chancellorship, has come to stand for the opposite. The first woman to ever fill the office, she built a reputation for rational, evidence-based decision-making and predictable performances,” they write.

Based on a visual discourse analysis of the former German Chancellor’s official Instagram account, the article shows “how her authenticity was strategically built through performances of ordinariness and consistency, without relying on more emotional aspects of presentation such as immediacy and intimacy.”

The authors argue that “instead of “instagramizing” Merkel, she “merkelized” Instagram. This finding complicates understandings of social media and contemporary politics as being focused on relatability, spectacle, and drama. It also questions the close conceptual connection of authenticity and intimate, emotional representations.”

Read the full article here.

Cover photo: Instagram / bundeskanzlerinmerkel
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