Quotation Seiffert-Brockmann, Jens, Diehl, Trevor, Dobusch, Leonhard. 2018. Memes as games: The evolution of a digital discourse online. New Media & Society. 20 (8), 2862-2879.




This study proposes a theoretical framework for understanding how and why certain memes prevail as a form of political discourse online. Since memes are constantly changing as they spread, drawing inferences from a population of memes as concrete digital artifacts is a pressing challenge for researchers. This article argues that meme selection and mutation are driven by a cooperative combination of three types of communication logic: wasteful play online, social media political expression, and cultural evolution. To illustrate this concept, we map Shepard Fairey’s Obama Hope Poster as it spreads online. Employing structural rhetorical analysis, the study categorizes Internet memes on branching diagrams as they evolve. We argue that mapping these variations is a useful tool for organizing memes as an expression of the values and preferences embedded in online communities. The study adds to the growing literature around the subversive nature of memetic diffusion in popular and political culture.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation External
Type of publication Journal article
Journal New Media & Society (NMS)
Citation Index SSCI
WU-Journal-Rating new INF-A
Language English
Title Memes as games: The evolution of a digital discourse online
Volume 20
Number 8
Year 2018
Page from 2862
Page to 2879
Reviewed? Y
URL http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1461444817735334
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461444817735334
Open Access N


Seiffert-Brockmann, Jens (Details)
Dobusch, Leonhard (Former researcher)
Diehl, Trevor (Universität Wien, Austria)
Institute for Communication Management and Media IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5917 Communication science (Details)
5920 Journalism (Details)
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