Internet memes as polyvocal political participation

Andrew S. Ross, Damian J. Rivers

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookOther chapter contributionpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter offers a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of a selection of Internet memes devised and circulated in relation to the 2016 US presidential election. It focuses on the discursive (including visual) and social practices associated with the memes in line with N. Fairclough's three-dimensional framework to CDA. In order to provide evidence of the multitude of ways that Internet memes developed and demonstrated political engagement parallel to the unfolding electoral process, the chapter targets the within-group opposition that occurred during the primaries and the active delegitimization of candidates throughout the general-election campaign. It shows that the memes exemplify what Milner has termed "polyvocality," this being an increasing volume and diversity of "voices involved in public discussion", voices that often amplify, distort, challenge, and undermine those found within mainstream media. The chapter demonstrates how Internet memes can be used in "making a point" in relation to politics and in particular the 2016 election.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Presidency and Social Media
Subtitle of host publicationDiscourse, Disruption, and Digital Democracy in the 2016 Presidential Election
EditorsDan Schill, John Allen Hendricks
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781351623193
ISBN (Print)9781315112824
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


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