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Virality and Morphogenesis of Right Wing Internet Populism

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Eva Kimminich and Julius Erdmann

Information and its individual interpretations are highly discussed in social media. Their use and misuse is an important subject for cultural and media studies. The theoretical framework of this volume is based on a synopsis of socio-constructivist and semiotic paradigms, which permit insight into ongoing adjustments of the social perception of reality and the thereby changing benchmarks. The assembled micro-studies concentrate primarily on right-wing Internet populism in Germany, France and Italy and allow a more precise idea of the effects the disseminated myths, metaphors and memes can have: Becoming viral, they can have an influence on a society’s semiosphere, i.e.on common sense and social life.

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#Pepe #völkisch – Memes as Vehicles for New Right Ideology

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Re- and Decontextualization as a Digital Strategy

Abstract: By means of two case studies, this paper examines how multimodals like the Internet meme can serve as a vehicle for ideological content, placing specific emphasis on its constitutive attribute: the re- and decontextualization. The first case study analyzes the appropriation of the Pepe the Frog meme by the Alt-Right in the US to provide linguistic categories to classify multimodal attributes of Internet memes as:

• multimodals: via form, content and macro-proposition

• semantic: as extension or constriction of meaning, or ultimately a conceptual shift (including a fundamental alteration of meaning)

In the second case study, the previously developed categories are applied and evaluated to memes created by the New Right1 in Germany.

It was found that the analyzed German New Right memes still lack on various levels: for instance, the required instinct to find the right exploitables with a certain degree of popularity without salient (pop-) cultural reference for re- and decontextualization.

In conclusion, multimodals like memes are particularly suited to be used as a vehicle of transportation of macro-propositions and as a means to achieve reinterpretations of denotations due to their inherent features of dissemination from micro to macro, as well as replication via remix (re- and decontextualization). In doing so, ideological content can be reproduced in a trivialized and normalizing manner due to the viral dissemination of explicit and possibly tabooed contents.

Keywords: Re- and...

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