The value of internet memes

Lecture at UTokyo The value of internet memes

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6:00-7:30 PM
October 9, 2019
Prof. Limor Shifman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


Widely disputed in academic circles for over three decades, the term “meme” has recently been re-formulated as a mundane phrase referring to a wide spectrum of digital phenomena, encompassing cute kittens and political protests. Focusing on attributes specific to memes in digital spheres, I shall propose a revised definition of the concept, and deploy it to explore the various roles played by memes in political participation and cultural globalization. The power of internet memes, I will argue, stems from their unique position as bridges between individuals and collectives. Finally, I will look into the intersection between memes and values, arguing that internet memes construct two types of values: overt values, which are expressed through memes’ content, and covert values, which are intrinsic to memes as communicative formats.

Additionally, Prof. Shifman will be explaining about her new large-scale global project "DigitalValues" starting 2019. "DigitalValues" aims to study the construction of values in social media through a comparative analysis of user-generated content in five languages. Saki Mizoroki, member of Kaori Hayashi Research Group at the University of Tokyo will be cooperating her project.


Prof. Limor Shifman is Associate Professor at the Department of Communication and Journalism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. She studies digital media and popular culture, and is particularly interested in two realms: understanding the big meaning of small texts (such as jokes) and identifying patterns in seemingly chaotic universes of user generated content. Her work has been published in venues such as Journal of Communication, American Sociological Review, New Media and Society and Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Prof. Shifman is a former research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute , University of Oxford, and a former visiting scholar at the USC Annenberg school of Communication and Journalism.




東京大学大学院情報学環・学際情報学府 林香里研究室「メディア研究のつどい」


  • 東京大学大学院博士課程教育リーディングプログラム多文化共生・統合人間学プログラム(IHS)・教育プロジェクトS
  • 日本マス・コミュニケーション学会 ジャーナリズム研究・教育部会


For further inquires, or if you have any questions for the lecture, please send an email to Saki Mizoroki