‘Liking and Sharing’ the stigmatization of poverty and social welfare: Representations of poverty and welfare through Internet memes on social media

Kathy Dobson, Irena Knezevic

Abstract


Internet memes play an important role in the reproduction, reinforcement and circulation of social stereotypes, including about those who live in poverty. Due to the vast reach and increasing popularity of various social media platforms, these memes can reach a potentially enormous audience; when an image goes ‘viral,’ its claims are made more powerful every time it is shared or reposted. In this paper we investigate the relationship between Internet memes and stereotypes about poverty by examining a set of memes that make claims about one particular aspect of poverty in North America – receipt of social assistance in the form of welfare cheques, medical coverage and food.


Keywords


Poverty, social welfare, memes, social media, stigmatization, viral

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