Laboured Identity: An Analysis of User Branding Practices on Instagram

  • Susana Aires University of Warwick
Keywords: identity, labour, Instagram, branding, influencers


This article examines how the proliferation of branding practices on Instagram (re)produces and intensifies a labour that exploits the identity of individuals. Analysing user-generated content, it shows how the platform creates dispositions towards certain forms of self-presentation through the interactions between influencers and common users. In particular, this contribution argues that the practice of tagging/hashtagging brands, mediated by influencer marketing, has penetrated the social tissue of the platform to such an extent that common users have come to appropriate a set of pre-established self-presentation narratives tailored by neoliberal rationalities over evaluative practices. The article concludes by claiming that branding practices undertaken by Instagram users can be understood not only as a form of structural labour but also as a form of subjective labour that, due to the nature of the social media milieu, enlarges the space of an ideological environment by reaching an ever-growing number of users.