Nadine Shanahan

Postgraduate Research Student & Graduate Teaching Fellow

Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology 


Nadine is a third-year PhD student researching the construction, negotiation, and performativity of femininity on Instagram. Prior to her current studies, Nadine studied LLB Law and completed an MSc in Criminology. Nadine gained a PGCE in Further Education and taught Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice at both further and higher education levels.

Nadine joined the School of Law and Social Justice as a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Fellow in October 2021.


Nadine’s research completed for her MSc in Criminology drew upon aspects of media and cultural studies through an examination of ‘race’ and ethnicity within mainstream media. Nadine has continued these research interests into her current project which lies within gender and visual culture. Her PhD project explores how societal pressures relating to gender and appearance impact women’s use of Instagram, and how this translates into everyday life. Nadine is currently conducting a digital ethnographic study of Instagram, accompanied by interviews to consider how these regulatory standards impact women’s lives. She is particularly interested in exploring how women, who reject/cannot meet these feminine ideals, navigate social media spaces. Additionally, she seeks to discover how ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender identity impact this. Her work investigates how these concepts are underpinned by philosophical ideas such as postfeminism and neoliberalism. There is an auto-ethnographic element to Nadine’s project, as her Instagram use will also be a focus of analysis. This will foster a collaborative environment where women share stories and lived experiences. This powerful aspect of the research will enrich the study and create a sense of solidarity amongst women navigating the ideal standards of femininity.

Thesis title

Ideal femininity: A digital ethnographic analysis of the construction, negotiation, and performativity of femininity on Instagram.



Shanahan, N. (2022) ‘Race’, Power and Football: A Critical Discourse Analysis. University of Plymouth - Postgraduate Research Showcase. June 2022.
Shanahan, N. (2023) The Successful Woman: The Gendered Burden of a Competitive, Marketised and Individualised World. Feminist Inquiry. British Sociological Association Postgraduate Conference. October 2023.