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Enacting engagement online: framing social media use for the museum

Jenny Kidd (City University, London, UK)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 1 March 2011




The purpose of this paper is to highlight and reflect on the increased use of social media in the museums sector in the UK and beyond. It seeks to explore the challenges of utilising such media for institutions steeped in discourses of authority, authenticity and materiality.


Arguments are illustrated using examples of practice and policy from across the museums sector, and are informed by critical theory. In particular, Erving Goffman's frame analysis is used as a means for understanding and articulating the current use of social media by museums.


There is currently a gulf between the possibilities presented by social media, and their use by many museums. This leads to forms of frame misalignment, which can be intensely problematic. It is crucial that museums increase their understanding of the frames within which such activity is being encouraged and experienced.

Research limitations/implications

The paper does not offer a comprehensive mapping of social media use by museums at the current time. Rather, it uses notable examples to foreground a number of concerns for exploration through further research.


The paper calls into question the naturalised discourse surrounding social media use in the museums sector. It calls for a re‐appraisal and re‐framing of such activity so that it might more genuinely and satisfactorily match the claims that are being made for and about it.



Kidd, J. (2011), "Enacting engagement online: framing social media use for the museum", Information Technology & People, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 64-77.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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