Religious masculinities: performing in/visibility on Instagram


  • Alberta Giorgi University of Bergamo

Parole chiave:

gender, masculinity, visibility, instagram, digital religion



Digital media studies on gender and religion have steadily grown in the last decade, showing that digital platforms: (1) contribute to the visibility and voice of marginalized actors, including religious women and LGBT+ people, and offer a place for the expression of the complex nuances of gender performances of religious individuals; (2) are spaces of development of “alternative” forms of religious authority, that challenge, negotiate or complement traditional ones; (3) constitute a safe space for marginalized or minority voices to cope with exclusionary processes they may have suffered within their communities, and to activate forms of re-plausibilization of religion, to make it possible to re-embed oneself in the religious community; (4) open up spaces to unpack, discuss and criticize religious norms and conventions.

This article explores Catholic masculinities by means of digital ethnography, focusing on Instagram posts that use two hashtags: #thosecatholicmen and #dignityusa. The first hashtag performs and renovates traditional Catholicism, praising fatherhood and brotherhood, while the second celebrates LGBTQI Catholics. Both hashtags are related to specific groups; however, focusing on hashtags rather than groups’ accounts allows exploring whether and how the hashtag is appropriated and experienced, broadening its scope beyond its initial launch. Differently to what occurs on Twitter, in fact, Instagram hashtags are used to specify the image content and to connect to ad hoc communities.

Three main elements emerge from the analysis, contributing to the research on gender, digital media, and religion. First, the research shows the differences in the visual representations and expressions of masculinity emerging around the two hashtags – muscular and militant in one case, familiar and non-threatening on the other. Second, it illustrates the differences in the use of Instagram, which in one case is the place to construct and affirm role models, while in the other it offers the chance of claiming the legitimacy of being both homosexual and Catholic. Third, it clarifies the complex mechanisms of visibility and invisibility that are in play.

Biografia autore

Alberta Giorgi, University of Bergamo

Alberta Giorgi, senior assistant professor in Sociology of Cultural and Communication Processes, University of Bergamo, and associate researcher of the research groups GSRL (Paris) and CRAFT (Turin), and the research centre CES (Coimbra). She participated to Grassrootsmobilise ERC-funded project. Alberta is chair of the research network Political Sociology (European Sociological Association), and elected board member of the research network on Religion (Italian Association of Sociology). Among her publications: Religious Feminists and the Intersectional Feminist Movements – Insights from a Case Study (European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2020). She works on the intersections of religion and politics – namely secularism, and gender and religion




Come citare

Giorgi, A. (2021). Religious masculinities: performing in/visibility on Instagram. Mediascapes Journal, (18), 67–79. Recuperato da