This article advances a narrative approach to internet memes conceptualized as partial stories that reflect, capture, and contribute to wider storylines. One key difficulty in studying memes as stories rests in the fact that narrative analysis often focuses on plot at the expense of roles and characters. Building on narrative psychology and, in particular, transactional and linguistic types of analysis, we propose a typology of character roles—Persecutor, Victim, Hero, and Fool—that is useful to uncover scenarios within memes and, thus, reveal their intrinsic narrative structure. We apply this framework to the analysis of political narratives embedded within 241 coronavirus memes systematically sampled from Reddit’s r/CoronavirusMemes between January and May 2020. Five main scenarios or storylines emerged from this analysis, the first four depicting a more or less common narrative of protest against the incompetence and/or malevolence of the political class—from Donald Trump and the Republicans in the United States to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives in the United Kingdom and, finally, to politicians in Asia such as Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un—while the fifth scenario brought to the fore social categories made salient by the pandemic and focused especially on the relation between people who respect and don’t respect measures. The psychological, social, and political implications of these scenarios in relation to the pandemic are discussed, as well as the broader consequences of studying memes as narrative structures.

De Saint Laurent, C., Glaveanu, V. P., Literat, I., Internet Memes as Partial Stories: Identifying Political Narratives in Coronavirus Memes, <<SOCIAL MEDIA + SOCIETY>>, 2021; 7 (1): 1-13. [doi:10.1177/2056305121988932] [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/179071]

Internet Memes as Partial Stories: Identifying Political Narratives in Coronavirus Memes

Glaveanu, V. P.;
2021

Abstract

This article advances a narrative approach to internet memes conceptualized as partial stories that reflect, capture, and contribute to wider storylines. One key difficulty in studying memes as stories rests in the fact that narrative analysis often focuses on plot at the expense of roles and characters. Building on narrative psychology and, in particular, transactional and linguistic types of analysis, we propose a typology of character roles—Persecutor, Victim, Hero, and Fool—that is useful to uncover scenarios within memes and, thus, reveal their intrinsic narrative structure. We apply this framework to the analysis of political narratives embedded within 241 coronavirus memes systematically sampled from Reddit’s r/CoronavirusMemes between January and May 2020. Five main scenarios or storylines emerged from this analysis, the first four depicting a more or less common narrative of protest against the incompetence and/or malevolence of the political class—from Donald Trump and the Republicans in the United States to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives in the United Kingdom and, finally, to politicians in Asia such as Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un—while the fifth scenario brought to the fore social categories made salient by the pandemic and focused especially on the relation between people who respect and don’t respect measures. The psychological, social, and political implications of these scenarios in relation to the pandemic are discussed, as well as the broader consequences of studying memes as narrative structures.
Inglese
De Saint Laurent, C., Glaveanu, V. P., Literat, I., Internet Memes as Partial Stories: Identifying Political Narratives in Coronavirus Memes, <<SOCIAL MEDIA + SOCIETY>>, 2021; 7 (1): 1-13. [doi:10.1177/2056305121988932] [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/179071]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10807/179071
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