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Conference report by Louise Ryan, PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology


louBy Louise Ryan, PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick

In 2018, I presented papers from my PhD research at two conferences. The first, Theorizing the Web (TtW) was held in New York City and the second, Instagram Conference 2018: Studying Instagram Beyond Selfiesat Middlesex University in London.

These conferences were beneficial to my research and greatly complemented each other. They gave me valuable insight into my field of research and allowed me to connect with researchers in the field. In the first year of my PhD this was my first time presenting at a conference. The conference brings together technology practitioners, artists, activists and scholars thinking critically about relationships between the Web and society.

Theorizing the Web (TtW)

My experience at the conference was very positive. I was nervous to presenting my research to such a large audience with the added awareness of my presentation being livestreamed. However, I was able to network with numerous academics and researchers. I also had the chance to hear very interesting new research relating to social media platforms.

A highlight of the conference for me was the keynote session with Malcolm Harris, Osita Nwanevu and Dr Crystal Abidin. The panellists discussed ‘The Next Generation’ of social realities and the role of social media for young people navigating social antagonisms like surveillance and precarious employment.

Instagram Conference 2018: Studying Instagram Beyond Selfies

The Instagram Conference 2018: Studying Instagram Beyond Selfies Middlesex University included academic researchers who centre the Instagram platform in their research. I had the opportunity to present my paper “Constantly varied dysfunctional fitness: the hyper-reality of ‘Insta-famous athletes”. I discussed the findings of a pilot study conducted for my PhD research that examined the collapse of online/offline boundaries for participants in an international CrossFit competition in early 2018.

Professor Richard Rogers delivered a plenary session: “Otherwise engaged: Social media from vanity metrics to critical analysis”. He discussed using social media to study the mobilisation of social causes. and engaging with a critical analytics approach to social media’s ‘vanity metrics’.

It may seem intimidating and beyond your comfort zone in the early stages of the PhD, but often attendees are incredibly encouraging, much more than you might you think they will be!

A huge thank you to AHSS for their funding to support my attendance as I would not have been able to attend international conference without this financial assistance.

Bio: Louise Ryan is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Limerick. Her research examines the social and cultural implications of social media technologies. Her PhD studies the relationships between social media users and internet celebrities in the fitness industry on the Instagram platform. Louise graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an M.Phil in Gender and Women’s Studies and previously researched online fan communities and sexualities in popular culture graduating with First Class Honours in 2015 with a BA in English and Economics (UL).

Twitter: @lou_ryan2


Find out more about postgraduate research in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences here.

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