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Instagram Teachings and Relative Poverty

New Challenges for Future Sustainability and Wellbeing

ISBN: 978-1-80043-969-6, eISBN: 978-1-80043-968-9

Publication date: 21 May 2021


Introduction: As a type of poverty, relative poverty can be defined as being below the average welfare of society. Basic needs can be afforded, but individuals can’t take advantage of the welfare created by society. Today coding the reflection of welfare, sharing experiences has new meanings by new social media means. Instagram is especially preferred in visual sharing because of its filter options, live feed, or story mode. These features help the message sender to increase the effect of the message and the receiver to understand the reality with its different dimensions. It is not shocking that the images of welfare and its indicators are shared increasingly in social networks because storytelling in this media is fed. The visual strengthening is underlining the possession of the owner and the deficiency of the non-owner from their perspectives.

Purpose: This study examines the emotional effects of ideal life images shared on Instagram on other individuals. The aim is to reveal and define the meaning ascribed to such fractions of life with a visual appeal by people who cannot lead this kind of life.

Methodology: In accordance with the Social Learning Theory, the study assumes that people with relative poverty take notice of their own poverty through social media. The study investigates the emotions manifested by individuals who take notice of the things that they lack through social media. Thus, a qualitative study was designed and conducted using a phenomenological approach. The phenomenon of this study is failing to have. The objective of the study is to understand and determine what the individuals who do social comparisons feel they lack. For this purpose, the fundamental research questions of this study are as follows: RQ1: What are the main categories of Instagram posts that evoke a sense of deprivation in individuals?; RQ2: What do glamorous Instagram posts mean to individuals who are above the relative poverty threshold? The data gathered via the in-depth interview technique were analyzed using the computer-assisted qualitative analysis program (MaxqDa 2020). Qualitative content analysis and descriptive analysis were the forms of analysis used in the study.

Findings: The fact that there are negative links between passively consuming information on social media and well-being is supported by previous studies. This study exposes the experiences of “failing to have” due to upward social comparison in individuals who are above the relative poverty threshold in Turkey. The categories of shared content that evoke the feeling of deficiency in the participants are as follows: Travel/vacation, participation in social life, physical attractiveness, material possessions, and professional/academic career. The participants of the study are individuals who are above the relative poverty threshold for Turkey. The participants want to have “more than what they already have.” For this reason, it can be suggested that the main keyword summarizing the findings of the study is “more.” The study demonstrates that failing to travel and participate in social life deeply affects the participants and causes them to experience negative emotions.




The study was presented at IV. International Applied Social Sciences Congress 22nd-24th October 2020 and printed as a summary text.


Alemdar, M.Y. (2021), "Instagram Teachings and Relative Poverty", Özen, E., Grima, S. and Gonzi, R.D. (Ed.) New Challenges for Future Sustainability and Wellbeing (Emerald Studies in Finance, Insurance, and Risk Management), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 243-266.



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