To Entertain and Dominate: Images of Russian Power and Opposition in Internet Memes

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Svetlana A. Shomova

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of the Media Department at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia


Section: New Media

The political Internet meme is one of the little-studied phenomena of modern digital culture. Understood as a unit of transmission of cultural information in the network, such a meme can be viewed, on the one hand, as a spontaneous product of the creative work of many people, a mechanism of political participation and, on the other, as a tool of political PR technologies, a way to “overstate ” or “understate ” the image of a political leader. The novelty of the proposed article, which is devoted to the results of the study of the memes posted on Russian social media in 2017—2019, is in the fact that it describes the first attempt to trace the formation of the images of Russian power and opposition embodied in memetic constructions. Using the methods of communication research (primarily those of semantic, semiotic and comparative analysis), as well as relying on expert interview data, the author of the article solves the main task of identifying the leading varieties of Runet’s political memes as well as the semantic characteristics of the memes that form the image of Russian politicians. One of the most important conclusions could be the observation that from the point of view of the potential of their viral spread and the possibility of being noticed by the Runet audience the most effective Internet memes are “negative”, aggressive political ones (the memes that work to “understate” the image of a political persona /or idea /or event).

Keywords: new media, Internet meme, political communication, power, opposition, political image
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.3.2019.2343


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