Marc Tuters and Sal Hagen of OILab published an article in New Media & Society: “(((They))) rule: Nebulous othering and memetic antagonism on 4chan.” The article builds on the ideas of an earlier blogpost on this website.
Read the article here (open access).
The article considers that while previously theorised as vehicles for expressing progressive dissent, political memes have become entangled in a reactionary turn of Web subcultures. Drawing on Chantal Mouffe’s work on political affect, the article examines how online anonymous communities use memetic literacy, memetic abstraction, and memetic antagonism to constitute themselves as political collectives. Specifically, it focuses on how the subcultural and highly reactionary milieu of 4chan’s /pol/ board does so through an anti-Semitic meme called triple parentheses. In aggregating the contents of this peculiar meme from a large dataset of /pol/ comments, the article finds that /pol/ users, or anons, tend to use the meme to formulate a nebulous out-group resonant with populist demagoguery.