Do not mess with a meme: the use of viral content in communicating politics
Internet meme
Viral content
Political communication
Social media
Content analysis
Issue Date: 
Bebić, D. (Domagoj); Volarevic, M. (Marija). "Do not mess with a meme: the use of viral content in communicating politics". . 31 (3), 2018, 43 - 56
Political memes are no longer rare flashes of uncensored personality or intensely manicured visual messages; they have grown into a form of anarchic folk propaganda (Guardian, 2016). The role of the current research is to explain the role and significance of the Internet meme in political communication; to do so, the study takes on the case of former Croatian prime minister, Ivo Sanader. This paper provides the content analysis of the sarcastic Facebook initiative “Ćaća se vraća” (The Father Is Coming Back) and the content analysis of the most popular news portals in Croatia in period of Sanader release from prison. Pilot analysis detected four main thematic issues (typologies) of memes in which Sanader was presented: domestic political issues, domestic social issues, foreign political issues, and foreign social issues. Data show that Sanader was the main actor of the most memes and was presented usually in a positive tone and as a problem solver. In addition, research confirms that this initiative influenced the way media reported about Ivo Sanader in period of media debates about Sanader release from prison. Moreover, in all news where Sanader was mentioned as “ćaća” in selected time period it was always in a positive tone, which is true for all three of the most read news portals in Croatia.

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