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Communicating Mixed Messages About Religion through Internet Memes

TitleCommunicating Mixed Messages About Religion through Internet Memes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAguilar, A, Campbell, H, Stanley, M, Taylor, E
JournalInformation, Communication & Society
Keywordsdigital cultures, internet memes, Lived religion, memes, participatory culture

This article investigates the dominant messages Internet memes communicate about religion. Internet memes about religion are defined as, ‘memes circulated on the Internet whose images and texts focus on a variety of religious themes and/or religious traditions’ (Bellar et al., 2013). By drawing on meme genres identified by Shifman (2012) and analyzing techniques used to frame ideas concerning religion in memes, this study identifies common genres found amongst religious Internet meme and core frames used to present messages and assumptions about religion online. This article further draws attention to the importance of studying religion in digital contexts, as it highlights trends, recognized by scholars toward ‘Lived Religion’ within digital culture (Campbell, 2012). Lived Religion argues that contemporary media and digital culture provide important resources for presenting popular beliefs about religion. This study also suggests that studying Internet memes about religion provides a useful lens for understanding popular conceptions about religion within mainstream culture.