Building from my previous post on my media niche, this week I tried to narrow and define my field site of Vegan Food Content.
My Field Map
A field site can be mapped by recognising the spatial characteristics of a field-based research project, focusing on the way and how the relevant interactions take place (Burrel J. 2009).
What is included?
I focused very heavily on the online presence side of vegan food content – solely to the confinement of having used the word ‘content’. Using a genre of media which is made by individuals, I found it difficult to separate the platforms to the creators. On social media platforms, we are likely to ethnographically view interactions among users that might not even know each other; mediated by the platform’s affordances (Baym & Boyd, 2012 cited in Airoldi A. 2018).
Stemming from the centre are the predominant platforms used to home vegan food media, with YouTube and blogging spheres being the most heavily saturated in my opinion. Each of these platforms have their own medium of posts and posters.
YouTube and Instagram both feature similar influencers, recipe videos/photos and an array of product features. As touched upon on my media niche post, aesthetics are the name of the game. When going through both of these platforms there was a noticeable similarity of visuals and ideas, with most of things features originating from the YouTube space and is replicated on Instagram.
‘What I eat in a day’ videos have become their own genre on YouTube and have a mass amount of vegan contributions. It has even gotten to the point where ‘nutritionists’ and other vegans review other vegans what I eat in a day videos – and make a video about it. These videos are huge on YouTube and have subsequently trickled down into Instagram content as well.
Pinterest is an interesting space for this topic, I was particularly looking at recipes on this platform. When searching something specific like “vegan pasta” or something along those lines, it pulls links from blogs and even instagram accounts and acts as another means to find these influencers. A large number of Instagram and YouTube vegan creators have an additional blog or website for recipes which is then brought forward on Pinterest – they are all connected.
As the majority of creators overlap on platforms and use these spaces as their income generation, product ads and promotions are so apparent it has become quite a meme. I have included the 3 most endorsed products online in my map, but there is an incredible amount of obvious and more subtle product placements on any of these platforms. Another income generation can recipe books, eBooks in particular, are EXTREMELY popular in these communities. If they have a blog and an instagram account – there’s an eBook.
Food blogging is an overly saturated market on any platform, even now TikTok, and notable influencers vary from person to person. It can often be a numbers game, but some of my favourite food YouTubers have under 100k subscribers and have not been included in the map. Somewhere that might need more investigation is the realm of vegan podcasts, but it’s not necessarily cooking content, so potentially would be wise to define the vegan content further.
Airoldi, Massimo (2018) ‘Ethnography and the digital fields of social media’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 21:6, 661-673.
Burrell, Jenna (2009) ‘The Field Site as a Network: A Strategy for Locating Ethnographic Research’, Field Methods, 21:2, 181–199.