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A sociological analysis of scopophilia, individual empowerment, and surveillance culture: a case study on instagram usage

Çerçioğlu, Hasan
This piece of work had the purpose of investigating the relationships between the phenomena of Scopophilia, individual empowerment and Surveillance Culture, all in the context of Turkey and on the basis of Instagram use while examining the reflection of these towards the daily lives of individuals. Scopophilia was borrowed from the conceptual toolkit of Sigmund Freud while the term Surveillance Culture was used in the way as it was coined by David Lyon. Individual empowerment processes were categorized according to the reviewed/accessed literature which consisted of; empowerment on identity construction, psychological, social, political, economic and finally informational/educational empowerment. For the aforementioned purpose, 12 in-depth interviews were conducted with active Instagram users who were selected by pre-determined sampling criteria. The statements of the participants were analyzed on the MaxQDA program with an open coding process. The findings were thematized with respect to the research questions. It was found that all of the Instagram users harbored Scopophilic tendencies which initially effected their Instagram usage patterns and then helped them to attain certain empowerment processes through these patterns. While it was also found that Scopophilia and Instagram usage were supporting and reproducing Surveillance Culture, a culture where basicly everyone seemingly had obtained the power to gaze everyone, it was observed that the balance of power and authority was in favor of the state and governmental structures against the individual and that Instagram proved to be insufficient in terms of having an effect on changing this situation. Instagram was found to have the capacity to provide various benefits in the users’ microverse and daily lives, but it was unable to generate the same benefits and the political power in the macro sense, as the state remains as the most powerful player in that arena.