BCM 241 – Week 4 Research and Ethics

In this subject, I decided to start my project on the foodie account on Instagram. I plan to focus on how ‘Instagrammable food’ changed Instagram users of their eating practises and food choices. After choosing my media niche and narrowing my field site also planning my approach for further research. In this post, I will be drawing some of the background research in views to investigate the impacts of ‘Instagrammable food’ and also showing some of the ethical issues correlated with my project topic.


In recent global foodscape, the ‘Camera-eats-First’ phenomenon and behaviour have appeared and become popularized among teenagers and young adult. However, it is witnessed that there is an obvious rise in the number of social media users becoming foodies. They usually write about the taste of food and take pictures of food before eating and share on social media platforms, especially on Instagram. These pictures of food are in common highly stylized, it attracts a lot of media users’ attention to follow and likes.(Wong, 2019)

According to the article, it had outlined that appearance impacts taste and flavour perception. Visual inducements can change the perception of taste, smell, and flavour. Therefore, numerous of ‘Instagrammable food’ post on Instagram which is beautiful and perfect-food-picture when searching#Foodie or #Instagrammablefood on Instagram. These ‘Eating with the eyes’ and ‘Instagrammable’ – the eating pattern have become a lifestyle and behaviour, (Delwiche, 2012)

The ‘instagrammable’ food could be directly associated with concepts such as ‘visual hunger’ or ‘digital satiation’, which would affect people food choices and eating practices. There are a lot of colourful and fantastic foods pictures on foodie Instagram. As for the content of foodie photos on Instagram, (Yan and Corino, 2019) some research found that almost 70% of Instagram foods posts are high-calorie foods such as sweets, fast food or other heavy foods. (Yong, Tong and Liu, 2020) mention that, documenting meals in this manner may be pathological. The individuals with pre-existing food obsessions may engage in food photography, perpetuating the obsession and leading to weight gain.

Those ‘Instaworthy’ Foods not only has negative effects on health but also impacted people eating habits. Since some influencers want to attract the target audiences, therefore they usually create cool and attractive content such as large portions of food photos. However, those great photos and foods will often end up in the trash, it may cause food waste.

From the background research, here are some focus questions and concepts that I could apply to my research data and field notes.

  • How ‘Instagrammable’ food is changing the way we eat?
  • How ‘Instagrammable’ food attracts people attention?
  • What is ‘Instagrammable’ food?
  • What are the impacts of creating ‘Instagrammable’ food?
Ethical Problems

There are various ethical problems that are encountered when doing ethnographic research on the individual. Even though most of the contents are public on social media but there is still an abundance of ethical issues. The (Savior Marketing LLC Development Team, 2016) mention that, If the social media content is identifiable – that is, if the poster’s face and/or name appears in the post – researchers should either get explicit consent from that person, de-identify the image (such as by blurring the photo and removing the name), or use ethical fabrication. When dealing with sensitive contexts, such as stigmatized identities or health issues, a person’s face and name should not be used without permission. Even though ethical practices diminish the risks, however, it may also probably damage participants such as issues of privacy, ownership, permission and confidentiality.

Ladner Sam (2014) illustrated that, The American Anthropological Association (AAA) offers a starting point for the ethical principles that can apply. These principles are generally applicable to private-sector ethnography. The AAA has distilled its ethical principles down to three simple statements:

  1. Do no harm.
  2. Be open and honest.
  3. Gain informed consent.

Besides, in my research, I will protect the participants’ identity and keep confidential any personal information about persons participating in the research projects. Secondly, before starting the questionnaire or interview, I will obtain consent involves informing the subject about their rights, the purpose of the study and ask for informed consent. More, when participating in my research, I will make sure all the participants are anonymity and I will be careful when reviewing and collecting the comments of others on social media platforms. I will embed all images and academic articles resources in a Harvard referencing style to ensure the permission is maintained throughout my research.


Wong, W., 2019. The Cultural Politics Of Foodie Criticism In Hong Kong: A Case Study Of Foodies On Instagram. [ebook] Hong Kong, pp.13-17, 21-30. Available at: <https://repository.hkbu.edu.hk/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1707&context=etd_oa&gt; [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Delwiche, J., 2012. You eat with your eyes first. Physiology & Behavior, [online] 107(4), pp.502-504. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938412002703&gt; [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Yong, J., Tong, E. and Liu, J., 2020. When the camera eats first: Exploring how meal-time cell phone photography affects eating behaviours. Appetite, [online] 154, p.104787. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666319316435?via%3Dihub&gt; [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Yan, J. and Corino, G., 2019. Digital Foraging: How Social Media Is Changing Our Relationship with Food and Nutrition?. Scientific Journal on Digital Cultures, [online] 4(3), pp.39-46. Available at: <http://file:///Users/yuenchingchiu/Desktop/digital%20foraging-%20how%20social%20media%20is%20changing%20our%20relationship%20with%20food.pdf&gt; [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Savior Marketing LLC Development Team, 2016. Ethical Use Of Visual Social Media Content In Research Publications – AHRECS. [online] AHRECS. Available at: <https://ahrecs.com/ethical-use-visual-social-media-content-research-publications/&gt; [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Ladner Sam (2014) Ethical Ethnography. Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector, Left Coast Press: CA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: