Picturesque Wounds: A Multimodal Analysis of Self-Injury Photographs on Flickr


  • Yukari Seko Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto



self-injury, visual content analysis, discourse analysis, social media, Flickr


The advancement of Web 2.0 technologies has drastically extended the realm of self-expression, to the extent that personal and potentially controversial photographs are widely shared with public viewers. This study examined user-generated photographs of self-injury (SI) uploaded on a popular photo-sharing site, to explore how the photo uploaders represent their wounded bodies, whether there are any emergent discursive and visual conventions that (re)define "photographs of SI," and whether these emergent conventions affirm or resist dominant cultural discourses of SI. 516 photographs of SI uploaded by 146 Flickr members were analyzed using methods of visual content analysis and discourse analysis. The findings indicate that while dominant discourses largely determine the shaping of SI photographs, some uploaders subversively frame their wounds as a narrative of resilience, thereby transforming their wounds into an authentic source of self-expression.



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Author Biography

Yukari Seko, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto

Yukari SEKO completed her doctorate in communication and culture at York University, with a focus on new media studies and qualitative Internet research. Aspiring a career spanning communication studies and health research, Yukari is currently doing her postdoctoral fellowship in the Social Aetiology of Mental Illness (SAMI) Training program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Her research interests include the therapeutic use of social media, eHealth, youth and adolescent mental health, Internet research ethics, and online-mediated intervention.




How to Cite

Seko, Y. (2013). Picturesque Wounds: A Multimodal Analysis of Self-Injury Photographs on Flickr. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(2).



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