Internet meme as meaningful discourse: towards a theory of multiparticipant popular online content
(Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland)
ABSTRACT: Departing from the cultural studies semiotic approach, this chapter seeks to analytically reviews shifts in roles of media users given increasingly participation-oriented media tools. Drawing upon the re-interpretation of Stuart Hall’s seminal encoding/decoding model of communication, the author proposes a theoretical concept of internet meme perceived as multiparticipant popular online content combining modalities of traditional (vertical and cultutre industry-orginated) and new (horizontal and peer-reproduced) modalities of media production and consumption. The author problematizes this concept by recontextualizing several aspects of Hall’s theory: 1) theoretical appropration of four stages of Hall’s “chain of discourse” (messages’ production, circulation, use, reproduction) to a new – highly converged – media environment; 2) ambiguous status of internet meme’s authorship; 3) new contexts for analyzing internet memes, including: online pop-culture modalities, different strategies of “old” and “new” culture industries, Intellectual Property Rights policies.