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Comunicar Journal 68: Networks, social movements and their myths in a hyperconnected world (Vol. 29 - 2021)

Myths in visual environmental activism narratives on Instagram


Elisenda Ardèvol

Sandra Martorell

Gemma San-Cornelio


Images are part of the communication strategies of both the hegemonic powers and political activism. Images have recently been the focus of studies on social movements, highlighting the importance of visual activism in social media. However, the relationship between these visual narratives and mythological structures and how they operate to mobilize social change has not been significantly explored. This study analyses the role of environmental activism memes on social media and how, in anthropological terms, they can be understood as myths or narratives that offer a model for perceiving, understanding, judging and acting in the world. We draw from ongoing research into eco-influencers on Instagram, taking environmental memes characterized by binary oppositions of “before” and “after” as the study subject. This contrast establishes a temporal narrative and future prediction, involving a cause-and-effect relationship and a moral judgement of our actions. We argue that, in the case of the environmental meme, the myth-based approach helps in understanding its role in articulating the cosmic, social and personal orders as it brings human action into harmony with the cosmic order while projecting its images onto the human experience.


Myths, memes, activism, sustainability, Instagram, influencers

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