The Movement for Black Lives has connected millions of people online. How are their outrage and hope mediated through social media? To address this question, this article extends Randall Collins’s Interaction Ritual Theory to social media. Employing semisupervised image recognition methods on a million Instagram posts with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, we identify four different interaction ritual types, each with distinct geographies. Instagram posts featuring interactions with physical copresence are concentrated in urban areas. We identify two different types of such areas: arenas where contention plays out and milieus where movement identities are affirmed. Instagram posts that do not feature physical copresence are more geographically dispersed. These posts, including memes and selfies, allow people to engage with the movement even when they are not embedded in activist environments. Our analysis helps to understand how different forms of engagement are embedded in particular places and connected through the circulation of social media posts.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.