Alexandra Boutopoulou

Information School

PhD researcher

Full contact details

Alexandra Boutopoulou
Information School
Michael Lynch Laboratory (RC-323)
Regent Court (IS)
211 Portobello
S1 4DP

I hold a BA in English Language and Literature (University of Athens), an MA in Communication (University of Westminster) and an MSc in Data Science (University of Sheffield).

Before starting my PhD, I worked in the fields of communication, advertising and digital/social media in London, Luxembourg and Athens, for more than a decade.

PhD project

Title: "Using visual social media data to better understand food safety cultures: the case of wellness bloggers."

This research draws upon the increasingly popular practices of a set of highly active online actors self-defined as ‘wellness’ bloggers.

These actors, many of whom have popular blogs and social media profiles, generate a wealth of pictures of their shopping, cooking preparations and outcomes and post them online to communicate with their audiences.

The aim of this research is to chart the ways in which (visual) social media have shaped recent social phenomena of healthy eating, wellness discourses and lifestyle practices in the UK. To achieve its aim, the thesis focuses on the analysis of the visual social media content generated by a particular actor, the influential food blogger Deliciously Ella.

Through a set of questions that investigate, among others, a) the key features of wellness blogging micro-celebrities, b) the disruption of traditional media systems and hierarchies, c) the adoption of the wellness bloggers practices by ordinary social media users, d) the understanding of the wider social phenomenon of healthy eating and wellness lifestyle practices mediated through social media platforms, this research attempts to shed light to an under-explored and new social phenomenon.

A combination of qualitative and computational methods is being used in order to analyse a large dataset of Instagram images and at the same time, ethnographic methods further enhance this research, aiming at providing different epistemic points of entry into the phenomenon under study.

This project is funded by the White Rose ESRC Network on ‘Big Data and Food Safety’, led by Dr. Farida Vis. This network is a research collaboration with the Food Standards Agency and Pulsar, a company specialising in Social Media Analytics and Intelligence.


  • Dr Briony Birdi (University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Nick Emmel (University of Leeds)
  • External advisor leading the Big Data and Food Safety White Rose ESRC Network: Dr. Farida Vis (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Research interests

  • Visual social media
  • Big data
  • Social media users’ behaviour
  • Food cultures
  • Wellness