Eating Ourselves into Identity? An Investigation into the Relationship between Dining-Out Experiences and Identity Production on Instagram amongst Female Young Professionals

Mia Jones, Jill Nash

Abstract


This research paper explores the relationship between eating-out and online identity formation, to better understand the role that dining experiences play in presenting a desired identity to others.

Existing literature has outlined the development of identity, self-promotion, and surrounding symbolism. However, research specifically devoted to the relationship between dining-out choices and identity on social media platform Instagram, is sparse. A significant proportion of previous research focuses on identity, social media and food choices as detached subject areas. The sample for this study is young female professionals aged 22-30. Semi- structured in-depth interviews were used to explore participants’ use of Instagram in portraying online identity through eating-out images. Findings reveal that participants use eating-out experiences to portray their identity through sharing the events that appear the most visually attractive and in the most exclusive locations; and that participants often use Instagram as a social reputation reviewing tool for dining-out. Researching dining locations prior to visiting, so they can anticipate how impressive the experience will be. Finally, findings revealed that dining locations develop a commonly shared symbolic meaning, much like consumer goods would. Enabling participants to transfer common associations with dining categories, such as posting a high-end dining experience image onto their Instagram

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