Abstract: Social media and media culture have significantly impacted how we understand ourselves, our communities, and our society. Marginalized groups have utilized social media as an effective outlet for self-expression and connecting with others. This project sought to understand how transgender Latinas use Instagram to present their identities and experiences using #TransLatina. The interdisciplinary team represents the fields of social work, photojournalism, and counseling psychology. This diversity of backgrounds and perspectives allowed us to qualitatively analyze the presentation of self of transgender Latinas by analyzing their posts, including images, captions, and hashtags. This paper seeks to discuss the strengths and challenges of utilizing Instagram as a source of data and the rich analytic process that emerged from such a diverse group of researchers. This interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial to understanding communication processes and social media’s role in the expression and understanding of underserved populations.
Abstract: Research on information and communication technologies conducted with a vulnerable sample consists of a unique host of challenges not experienced in research with oft-used student samples. This paper suggests that field experiments, conducted through a self-reflexive critical studies lens, are one way that communication researchers may address some of these barriers while keeping in mind sensitivity to inherent power imbalances. While considering the ongoing debate regarding the use of student samples in communication research, this paper examines one longitudinal field experiment that investigated the role of stable ICT access on health outcomes. We discuss the power dynamics at play in the relationships between the primary investigator, research assistants, and participants as well as describe the tradeoffs that are considered in this type of work. The marrying of the positivistic approach of field experiment with a critical studies lens can benefit a growing body of scholarship from various epistemological traditions, invested in socially conscious research within marginalized communities. We provide a self-reflexive analysis of our study along with practical recommendations within the context of our challenges and successes.