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Into the Meme Stream: The Value and Spectacle of Internet Memes

Mitman, Tyson ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4093-8485 and Denham, Jack ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2539-8292 (2024) Into the Meme Stream: The Value and Spectacle of Internet Memes. New Media and Society.

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This paper ‘tracks’ memes, forms of networked, pictorial/caption humour and social commentary – as well as cultural labour, through a process of value change: the ‘meme stream’. This is a process of incorporation of cultural resistance and labour into, and by, the dominant forces of capital that facilitate them: social media networks and their advertisers. We use Marcuse’s Repressive Tolerance alongside Debord’s Spectacle to argue that as memes move, increasing their audience as they go, they lose resonance with a dedicated audience but gain exposure with a more diffuse audience, which is detrimental to the expression of political, countercultural, or socially provocative positions. We use Doge as our explanatory structural example. Our contribution is to demonstrate that the systems that allow for the flow and movement of memes reduce their expressive content, shifting them toward a template that is impotent for cultural, social, or political critique.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448241227843
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/9177

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