How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?: Corporate Memes & Youth Resistance


Memes have become something of a vernacular language for young people online, as the proper understanding and usage of a meme displays subcultural knowledge and situates a user as part of the “in-group” of internet subculture. Because of these authenticity-marking and boundary-forming properties of memes, they have become an increasingly important way that youth build community and form identity online— and an increasingly attractive method for corporations on social media to establish authenticity within youth subcultural groups. But as corporations push the boundaries of online youth communities, they unintentionally make those boundaries more apparent. Part one of this thesis begins by examining the ways corporations utilize memes as a tactic of authenticity to establish themselves as part of the “in-group,” and how this disrupts young people’s strategies of self-expression and community formation. Part two focuses on the tactics that youth use to push back on what is perceived as an increasing corporate invasion, from weaponizing memes to making them so niche as to be incomprehensible to using them as anti-capitalist pedagogical tools. I use a discourse analysis approach to uncover how young people collectively negotiate and alter their practices of community and identity online in order to exclude corporate participation, disseminate counter-narratives, and distance their self-expression from that of corporations.
Senior thesis (AB)--Brown University, 2019
Concentration: Modern Culture & Media

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Goetzen, Nina, "How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?: Corporate Memes & Youth Resistance" (2019). Modern Culture and Media Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.