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      Memetic persuasion and WhatsAppification in Indonesia’s 2019 presidential election

      1 , 2 , 3
      New Media & Society
      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          This article examines the interplay between the creation of ‘meme factories’ by political elites, and their operationalisation through WhatsApp. It uses the case study of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi’s) bid for re-election in 2019 to argue that political elites are leveraging meme culture’s association with popular voice to ‘astroturf’ public discourse, and that WhatsApp’s unique infrastructure advances that project. Drawing on interview data, we offer a holistic picture of the processes and structures implicated in this instance of astroturfing, with a focus on how WhatsApp is positioned within them. The authors’ access to campaigners affords a rare inside view of these processes and structures, and contributes to a growing body of work on the WhatsAppification of election campaigns globally. In addition, the article builds on scholarship on social media election campaigning in Indonesia by drawing attention to the role WhatsApp’s unique features play in surreptitiously influencing public discourse.

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          Most cited references28

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          Political Astroturfing on Twitter: How to Coordinate a Disinformation Campaign

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            The World Made Meme

            This book presents an analysis of internet memes , the linguistic, image, audio, and video texts created, circulated, and transformed by countless cultural participants across vast networks and collectives. They can be widely shared catchphrases, auto-tuned songs, manipulated stock photos, or recordings of physical performances. They’re used to make jokes, argue points, and connect friends. As these texts have become increasingly prominent and prolific, the logics underscoring them—multimodality, reappropriation, resonance, collectivism, and spread—have become lynchpins of mediated participation. Even as individual internet memes rise and fall, the contemporary media ecology persists in being memetic. In this ecology, vibrant collective conversations occur across constellations of mediated commentary, remix, and play. Through memetic media, everyday members of the public can contribute their small strands of expression to the vast cultural tapestry. This book assesses the relationship between those small strands and that vast tapestry, exploring the good, the bad, and the in-between of collective conversation. Memetic media are used to connect participants across distance and context, but they’re also used to dehumanize others through the dominant perspectives they normalize. They’re used to express beyond narrow gatekeeping systems, but they’re still embedded in wider culture industries. Memetic media bring with them a mix of new potentials and old tensions, woven into the cultural tapestry by countless contributors. This book charts that intertwine.
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              Memes in Digital Culture

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                New Media & Society
                New Media & Society
                SAGE Publications
                1461-4448
                1461-7315
                April 14 2022
                : 146144482210882
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Monash University Malaysia, Malaysia
                [2 ]Queensland University of Technology, Australia
                [3 ]University of Sydney, Australia
                Article
                10.1177/14614448221088274
                1e2a2418-02fa-4aa9-842c-d14dfbddc78a
                © 2022

                http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license

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