Document Type

Article - postprint


Romance Languages and Literatures (Pomona)

Publication Date



Instagram, masculinity, populism, Spain, visual semiotics, Vox


Perhaps more than any other online social-networking platform, Instagram facilitates the construction and management of public image, serving as a potentially effective tool for political actors; nevertheless, it remains relatively understudied among digital communication strategies. In this article, I investigate the platform’s use by far-right populist politicians, turning to Santiago Abascal of Spain as a case study. Performing detailed analysis on a corpus of Abascal’s most popular posts determined by their “engagement rate,” I expose the gendered mode of self-presentation that resonates with Abascal’s public. In the second part of the article, I consider an equivalent corpus from President Pedro Sánchez, one of Abascal’s main political rivals at the time of writing. This comparative juxtaposition illustrates stark differences in approaches to social media and underscores how effective particular performances of masculinity can be for populist politicians. Ultimately, I aim to shed insight on the specific ways that Instagram serves far-right political projects, both in Spain and beyond.

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