Internet memes in Covid-19 lockdown times in Poland

Norstrom, Roza and Sarna, Pawel Internet memes in Covid-19 lockdown times in Poland. Comunicar, 2021, vol. 29, n. 67. [Journal article (Paginated)]

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English abstract

Poland was one of the countries that was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and its government imposed restrictions to combat the spreading of the virus. The Internet and social media became outlets for people’s reactions to the events that unfolded, including the lockdown. A part of this reaction came in the form of creating and sharing memes – an expression of digital participatory culture. This paper aims to analyze how Covid-19 was communicated and narrated through Internet memes and how they presented the pandemic and actors responsible for fighting it. 1,763 memes from six media platforms were analyzed using content analysis with framing elements and a comparative narrative analysis. The results show that the memes provided a form of commentary on the situation experienced by Poles. The most common category of memes was “bans and orders”, involving restrictions that were often criticized and ridiculed as pointless. The main characters within the memes were ordinary citizens, often portrayed in a comedic way as careless in regards to the virus and violating the restrictions. They were also presented as victims of the police and the government. Furthermore, the people responsible for fighting the pandemic were portrayed as incompetent and imposing needlessly severe restrictions and penalties for not abiding by them.

Spanish abstract

Polonia fue uno de los países golpeados por la pandemia del Covid-19 en 2020, cuyo gobierno impuso restricciones para combatir la propagación del virus. Internet y las redes sociales se convirtieron en un escape para las reacciones de las personas a estos eventos, incluido el confinamiento. Una parte de esta reacción vino en forma de creación y difusión de memes, una expresión de la cultura digital y participativa. El presente estudio tiene como objetivo analizar cómo el Covid-19 fue comunicado y narrado a través de los memes en Internet y cómo fue presentada la pandemia y los responsables de combatirla. Fueron analizados 1.763 memes de seis medios empleando un análisis de contenidos con elementos de enmarque y análisis comparativo narrativo. Los resultados muestran que los memes fueron una forma de expresión sobre la situación vivida por los polacos. La categoría más popular fue la de «prohibiciones y órdenes», aludiendo a las restricciones que frecuentemente fueron criticadas y ridiculizadas como inútiles. El personaje principal de los memes fueron los ciudadanos, frecuentemente retratados de una manera cómica como personas irresponsables en cuanto al virus y violaciones de las restricciones. También fueron presentados como víctimas de la policía y el gobierno. Además, las personas responsables de combatir la pandemia fueron retratadas como incompetentes, al imponer restricciones y sanciones excesivamente estrictas por no obedecerlas.

Item type: Journal article (Paginated)
Keywords: Covid-19; memes; participatory culture; protests; lockdown; satire; Covid-19; memes; cultura participativa; protestas; confinamiento; sátira
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information > BJ. Communication
G. Industry, profession and education.
G. Industry, profession and education. > GH. Education.
Depositing user: Alex Ruiz
Date deposited: 09 Jan 2021 06:57
Last modified: 09 Jan 2021 06:57


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