ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics on Memes and Memes on Politics

From social media to political campaigns, the presence of memes is felt in ways that transcend the mere purpose of humour. This article attempts to understand the nature of memes as an instrument of political communication in the public sphere and how it is contributing towards a more deliberative public space.

The author is thankful to Lajwanti Chatani and Pravesh Jung Golay for their encouragement and insights on this topic. The author is also thankful to the anonymous reviewer whose comments helped streamline the article and develop some of its major arguments.

The culture of memes is sometimes attributed to the millennials and often seen as a device of humour. However, the meaning and scope of memes have transcended its conventional understanding and space (Wiggins and Bowers 2015). As a result, we find social and political communication happening through memes at almost every juncture of society. Memes have already been diversified into different forms and genres, and it is common to observe memes in visual, literal, audio, and vocal forms (Dancygier and Vandelanotte 2017; Highfield and Leaver 2016). This pervasiveness of memes as a means of political communication in the 21st century makes it an apt subject of inquiry and a relevant tool for studying political tussles.

Memes also become an active agent of political imagery of the society and often hold a transformative potential to create invented communities (Gupta 2022). So, does that make memes the synecdoche of political change in contemporary times? Or does it imply that memes have the potential to qualify as a form of political literature? The issue might seem trivial but holds a key to understanding the public sphere. While some contemplation has already been done on the idea of memes in the field of linguistics and communication (Dancygier and Vandelanotte 2017; Grundlingh 2018; Highfield and Leaver 2016; Ross and Rivers 2017; Shifman 2013; Wiggins and Bowers 2015), the repercussions of memes on the political field are still underexplored.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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