Paper Number

1455

Paper Type

Complete Research Paper

Abstract

In this paper, I evaluate the role of memes as cultural symbols of online communities and their diffusion across community boundaries. Using the concept of meme languages, I compare examples of cultural symbols shared by alt-right and mainstream communities and analyze their similarities and differences based on a visual feature-matching algorithm introduced by Courtois and Frissen (2022). My findings show that alt-right and mainstream communities possess a greater cultural resemblance between each other than within each community type. As a community’s purpose and cultural boundaries significantly impact meme-sharing, I conclude there is no “one-size-fits-all” interpretation of cultural symbols. Moreover, I use the theoretical lens of memetics to evaluate the cultural diffusion process between both communities. I find evidence that several memes cross cultural boundaries after surviving a competitive selection process. My insights expand current research findings on online community boundaries and cultural diffusion, initiating interesting avenues for future research.

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Jun 14th, 12:00 AM

Follow the Memeing: Analyzing the Cultural Diffusion between Mainstream and Alt-Right Communities based on Shared Memes

In this paper, I evaluate the role of memes as cultural symbols of online communities and their diffusion across community boundaries. Using the concept of meme languages, I compare examples of cultural symbols shared by alt-right and mainstream communities and analyze their similarities and differences based on a visual feature-matching algorithm introduced by Courtois and Frissen (2022). My findings show that alt-right and mainstream communities possess a greater cultural resemblance between each other than within each community type. As a community’s purpose and cultural boundaries significantly impact meme-sharing, I conclude there is no “one-size-fits-all” interpretation of cultural symbols. Moreover, I use the theoretical lens of memetics to evaluate the cultural diffusion process between both communities. I find evidence that several memes cross cultural boundaries after surviving a competitive selection process. My insights expand current research findings on online community boundaries and cultural diffusion, initiating interesting avenues for future research.

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