Book Summary & Highlights: The Discursive Power Of Memes In Digital Culture By Bradley Wiggins

Book Summary & Highlights: The Discursive Power Of Memes In Digital Culture By Bradley Wiggins



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Amazon Summary

Shared, posted, tweeted, commented upon, and discussed online as well as off-line, internet memes represent a new genre of online communication, and an understanding of their production, dissemination, and implications in the real world enables an improved ability to navigate digital culture. This book explores cases of cultural, economic, and political critique levied by the purposeful production and consumption of internet memes. Often images, animated GIFs, or videos are remixed in such a way to incorporate intertextual references, quite frequently to popular culture, alongside a joke or critique of some aspect of the human experience. Ideology, semiotics, and intertextuality coalesce in the book’s argument that internet memes represent a new form of meaning-making, and the rapidity by which they are produced and spread underscores their importance.

About Author: Bradley Wiggins

Dr. Bradley E. Wiggins is an associate professor and head of the media communications department at Webster Vienna Private University. His investigations of digital culture and discourse involve research on internet memes, social media, and fake news. Additional research includes game and simulation-based learning, intercultural and strategic communication.

Author Presentations


  • Semiotics



Most Popular Highlights From Kindle Users

The central argument is that internet memes are discursive units of digital culture and that these units of discourse indicate an ideological practice.
Within image-based memes, the role of semiotics and intertextuality is elevated in the construction of meaning.
Internet memes as a digital phenomenon marked not by imitation but by the capacity to propose or counter a discursive argument through visual and often also verbal interplay;
To return to the meme, as described by Dawkins, and its internet counterpart, he envisioned the meme as a cultural unit (or idea) that sought replication for the purpose of its own survival.
Its current meaning describes a genre of communication, not a unit of cultural transmission.
Thus, following Eco’s (1984) definition of sign and Varis and Blommaert’s (2015) suggestion that internet memes are semiotic signs, all forms of mediated content – whether they ‘go viral’ or not – that represent or transmit meaning, can also be viewed as semiotic signs. However, signs which inhere a visual argument achieved through an expression of ideological practice and constructed semiotically and often intertextually are the category of internet memes examined in this work.
I suggest further that internet memes are not merely content items and thus simply replicators of culture but are rather visual arguments, which are semiotically constructed with intertextual references to reflect an ideological practice.
The internet meme is hereby defined as a remixed, iterated message that can be rapidly diffused by members of participatory digital culture for the purpose of satire, parody, critique, or other discursive activity. An internet meme is a more specific term for the various iterations it represents, such as image macro memes, GIFs, hashtags, video memes, and more. Its function is to posit an argument, visually, in order to commence, extend, counter, or influence a discourse.
The phrase discursive power inheres an agency possessing the capacity to do something, that is, to engage in the constituting and reconstituting of social relations in online spaces.
Second, memes as artifacts highlight their social and cultural role on the new media landscape.

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