Public Policy Relevance Statement Making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging, due to the unprecedented nature of this event and its multiple personal, social, economic, and political implications. Yet, at the same time, the meanings we assign to the virus and to preventative measures around it have a significant impact on our daily life. Here, we analyze online memes about COVID-19 as a window into social thinking about the pandemic. This analysis helps us understand the range of meanings associated with the pandemic by social media users, the processes by which these meanings are created, their transformation over time, and their contribution to wider social representations and discourses of COVID-19.This study examines meaning-making in and through coronavirus memes, as part of broader representations of the pandemic circulating online. It also aims to make a broader conceptual contribution by advancing a theory of mimetic representation that considers memes to be cultural meaning units and, building on social representations theory, proposes objectification, anchoring, and identification as their 3 main constitutive processes. A content analysis that focuses on these processes was conducted on a systematically generated sample of 1,544 memes posted on Reddit's r/CoronavirusMemes between January and May 2020. We found that the pandemic is objectified most often in terms of protective measures (e.g., quarantine, social distancing) and transmission (e.g., coughing, traveling when sick); that it is anchored in popular media themes, followed by geography, politics, and history; and that, in terms of identification, most memes portrayed the self and/or in-group. Although, over time, memes displayed more objectification and less identification, the ones that did make reference to in- and out-groups were more commented on. These results suggest that analyses guided by the theory of mimetic representation can shed light on the dynamic nature of meaning-making processes on social media and the importance of memes in terms of framing wider societal debates as well as creating new identities, online and offline.

De Saint Laurent, C., Glăveanu, V., Literat, I., Mimetic representations of the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis of objectification, anchoring, and identification processes in coronavirus memes, <<PSYCHOLOGY OF POPULAR MEDIA>>, 2022; (N/A): 1-15. [doi:10.1037/ppm0000370] [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/203118]

Mimetic representations of the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis of objectification, anchoring, and identification processes in coronavirus memes

Glăveanu, Vlad;
2022

Abstract

Public Policy Relevance Statement Making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging, due to the unprecedented nature of this event and its multiple personal, social, economic, and political implications. Yet, at the same time, the meanings we assign to the virus and to preventative measures around it have a significant impact on our daily life. Here, we analyze online memes about COVID-19 as a window into social thinking about the pandemic. This analysis helps us understand the range of meanings associated with the pandemic by social media users, the processes by which these meanings are created, their transformation over time, and their contribution to wider social representations and discourses of COVID-19.This study examines meaning-making in and through coronavirus memes, as part of broader representations of the pandemic circulating online. It also aims to make a broader conceptual contribution by advancing a theory of mimetic representation that considers memes to be cultural meaning units and, building on social representations theory, proposes objectification, anchoring, and identification as their 3 main constitutive processes. A content analysis that focuses on these processes was conducted on a systematically generated sample of 1,544 memes posted on Reddit's r/CoronavirusMemes between January and May 2020. We found that the pandemic is objectified most often in terms of protective measures (e.g., quarantine, social distancing) and transmission (e.g., coughing, traveling when sick); that it is anchored in popular media themes, followed by geography, politics, and history; and that, in terms of identification, most memes portrayed the self and/or in-group. Although, over time, memes displayed more objectification and less identification, the ones that did make reference to in- and out-groups were more commented on. These results suggest that analyses guided by the theory of mimetic representation can shed light on the dynamic nature of meaning-making processes on social media and the importance of memes in terms of framing wider societal debates as well as creating new identities, online and offline.
Inglese
De Saint Laurent, C., Glăveanu, V., Literat, I., Mimetic representations of the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis of objectification, anchoring, and identification processes in coronavirus memes, <<PSYCHOLOGY OF POPULAR MEDIA>>, 2022; (N/A): 1-15. [doi:10.1037/ppm0000370] [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/203118]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10807/203118
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