Apartheid in the digital outdoors? Representations of diversity in the Instagram content of outdoor brands from the US, UK and Scandinavia

Conference item


Graham, J. and Eriksson Krutrok, M. 2023. Apartheid in the digital outdoors? Representations of diversity in the Instagram content of outdoor brands from the US, UK and Scandinavia. ECREA - Contested visibilities: Everyday politics and online imaginaries of the body. Lusófona University, Lisbon, Portugal 06 - 08 Sep 2023
TitleApartheid in the digital outdoors? Representations of diversity in the Instagram content of outdoor brands from the US, UK and Scandinavia
AuthorsGraham, J. and Eriksson Krutrok, M.
Abstract

The outdoors offers widely understood health and wellbeing benefits and provides an unparalleled resource for the realisation and projection of identity, from the personal to the national. Yet participation in the outdoors in the countries of the global north is manifestly unequal, with BIPOC* communities typically much less likely than white counterparts to have access either to urban greenspaces or engage in outdoor leisure activities such as hiking, trailrunning, cycling, climbing, sailing, etc. Previous research on this topic invariably finds that promotional media construe the outdoors as a predominantly ‘white’ space in the social imagination (Finney 2014, Mills 2014) and reproduce an outdoor leisure identity that is ‘necessarily White, able-bodied, straight, and male’ (Stanley 2020, cf. McNeil et al. 2012, Godtman Kling et al 2020). In light of the developments wrought by both BLM and the coronavirus pandemic, this research project revisits the hypothesis that outdoor media perpetuates what Martin (2004) terms ‘apartheid in the outdoors’ by performing a content analysis of the Instagram posts of the top 10 outdoor brands in the US, Scandinavia and UK between the spring and summer seasons of 2020. The analysis reveals a marked difference in representations of diversity – in all its forms - across the three regions over the period, the significance of which is discussed in the context of demographic, political and cultural differences among the regions alongside the rise of ‘brand activism’ and debates around ‘woke washing’ (Sobande 2019, Vredenberg et al 2020).

KeywordsDiversity; Leisure Identity; Instagram; Outdoors; Outdoor Brands; Brand Activism
Sustainable Development Goals10 Reduced inequalities
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceECREA - Contested visibilities: Everyday politics and online imaginaries of the body
Publication process dates
Accepted31 May 2023
Completed08 Sep 2023
Deposited15 Sep 2023
Output statusCompleted
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