Monday, November 4, 2013

Christian Memes: Research Summary

Christian Memes is a Facebook page where users can submit and consume Christian internet memes. This case study used participant observation and online analysis to explore 13 religious memes collected from the site between August 30 and September 17, 2013.  It is important to look at this collection of memes because it provides insight into how Christians make sense of their everyday, lived religious lives (Ammerman, 2006) and how that sense-making process takes places within participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006). One distinct attribute of participatory culture is that it allows for collective knowledge to emerge. This collective knowledge can be negotiated through multiple and sometimes conflicting meanings.
Findings include that the meaning making process surrounding internet memes is a communal one. Meanings are contested and defended even on what some may see as the most simplistic of memes. This underscores the layered nature of memes, not only in the images and text used, but also in the decoding of meaning by different individuals. All memes contain layers of meaning and researchers must be cognizant of that fact throughout the research project. The image, text, context, and audiences’ collective knowledge – all contribute to the production and consumption of internet memes.Researchers need to attend not only to the meme itself, and the layers of text and image, but also to the audiences discussion about the meme as well as how they may take different layers and remix it into a new artifact.

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