Meme: Donald Trump holding a photoshoped copy of our meme paper.

New Publication: By any memes necessary? Small political acts, incidental exposure and memes during the 2017 UK general election

I’m pleased to announce a new publication, alongside Rosalynd Southern, titled: ‘By any memes necessary? Small political acts, incidental exposure and memes during the 2017 UK general election’, in The British Journal of Politics and International Relations.

This research is an important step into understanding the role that new media forms (and digital cultures) have in political communication and campaigns. Taking data from the 2017GE, we look at the types of memes shared, who is sharing them, to what level are these posters and audience viewers engaged in politics, and finally how successful are these memes in conveying political information.

BorisWave
The Conservatives heavily utilised memes in the 2019 general election to promote campaign messages. Here is one such example – “BorisWave”

We find that political memes are a highly shared and engaged in media form during the political campaign, and goes some way to inform meme audiences about political matters. The paper has significant relevance when trying to understand the approach the Conservative and Labour parties in the 2019 General Election in the use of memes. I look forward to what the 2024 GE has to offer! I wont lie, it was a really fun paper to write alongside Ros, chiefly because I could get away with looking at funny memes for a week or so.


Abstract
Following the 2017 UK general election, there was much debate about the so-called ‘youthquake’, or increase in youth turnout (YouGov). Some journalists claimed it was the ‘. . . memes wot won it’. This article seeks to understand the role of memes during political campaigns. Combining meta-data and content analysis, this article aims to answer three questions. First, who creates political memes? Second, what is the level of engagement with political memes and who engages with them? Finally, can any meaningful political information be derived from memes? The findings here suggest that by far the most common producers of memes were citizens suggesting that memes may be a form of citizen-initiated political participation. There was a high level of engagement with memes with almost half a million shares in our sample. However, the level of policy information in memes was low suggesting they are unlikely to increase political knowledge.

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