2018 Russian Presidential Elections in the Mirror of Memes:
New Realities of Political Communications
Professor of Faculty of Communications, Media and Design, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, firstname.lastname@example.org_id: 483408 |
The study is based on the results of the research (project № 18-01-0053), Program “Scientific Fund of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE)” in 2018-2019 and with state support of leading universities of the Russian Federation “5-100”
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Political internet memes are a little studied contemporary phenomenon situated at the nexus of digital culture and political communication. Meaningful as a unit of cultural transmission of information in social networks, a meme can be seen, on the one hand, as a spontaneous product of the creativity of the masses and a political participation mechanism, and on the other as an instrument of political PR-technologies. The article is devoted to the results of a study of memes posted on Russian social media during the presidential election campaign of 2018; the purpose being to study the specifics of the use of political Internet memes as a tool for Russian election communications. On the basis of the data obtained, there are ideas about the essence of the concept of a “political Internet meme” are refined, and the leading functions of political memes of the Runet (Russian Internet), their main varieties, semantic characteristics of memes that form the image of Russian politicians are analyzed. The study of large arrays of memetic messages made it possible to judge which thematic "accents" of candidates’ election campaigns are in demand by producers and distributors of memes. The study shows that the 2018 Russian presidential campaign is characterized by changes in communication technologies, caused, among other things, by general changes in the media landscape and the arrival of "new digital" generations. At the same time, memes, which make up a large share of social media content and a predominant vector of their users' communication exchange, in recent years have increasingly changed their character from entertainment to political, and become an important aspect of Web 2.0 policy. As a result, we should note the strengthening of entertainment and "carnivalization" of electoral processes, as well as the transformation of the Internet into a kind of battleground of various political actors for a place in the news agenda. The relevance of the study is given by the fact that, unlike foreign researchers who actively interpret the role of memetics in electoral processes, the political potential of the Internet meme has been studied in the Russian scientific tradition only in the very first approximation.
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