Accepted Papers:

Tracking cultural expressions in the contemporary world: from university students' jokes to internet memes  

Author:

Rūta Muktupāvela (Latvian Academy of Culture)

Paper Short Abstract:

Memes created by students can serve as a new kind of visual elicitation technique, because they provide symptomatic information that is never articulated in students' direct communication with the academic or administrative staff, or in the higher education quality assessment surveys.

Paper long abstract:

In a transforming world among young generation or "digital natives" internet has became one of the most important platforms in the process of creation of new kinds of folklore, for example, memes (Bronner, 2017). Before the digital era student jokes were an integral part of their daily communication and have formed a separate folklore genre. In the contemporary world cutural expressions have changed, and one can notice that students are hardly telling jokes anymore. However, this does not mean that they have lost their skills and desire for joking, but insted of jokes, they are willingly creating memes and shearing them in virtual chats.

While analysing students' memes (194 memes made by 97 students where processed), their thematic continuity has been revealed in respect to traditional jokes. The comparative analysis revealed, that the function of student memes, like that of jokes, is not only to feature the peculiarities of student lifestyle, to make fun and to entertain, but also to reveal the social problems that arise because of the constant shortage of financial resources for living, to reduce the tension created by hierarchical relationship typical for the academic environment, to criticise the academic staff's disadvantages or ambiguous attitudes towards students, etc. Thus memes can serve as a totally new kind of digital ethnography and visual elicitation technique, because they provide symptomatic information that is never articulated in students' direct communication with the academic or administrative staff, or in the higher education quality assessment surveys.

Panel Digi04
Digital ethnography and transformations: tracking cultural expressions in the contemporary world [W]