Niche-memes: How online subcultures and entrepreneurial logic collide on Instagram

 

This doctoral project explores how a specific community of Anglophone “niche”- meme creators on Instagram use entrepreneurial logic and subcultural production to create a network of patrons and artists.

Core Methods

I use a mix of qualitative and visual methods in this project. I visually analyse niche-memes as objects of art, conduct in-depth interviews with members of this niche-meme community, and utilise digital ethnography to explore relevant chatrooms and livestreams. Using visual methods helps me trace the aesthetic continuities between 'post-internet' niche memes, postmodern collage and medieval grotesque art. The interviews and digital ethnographic methods allows the artists' and patrons' perspectives to be represented in the project.

Methodological Challenges and Questions

Memes are highly intertextual and can contain layers and layers of hidden meanings. They are also created, consumed and disseminated over a variety of media. This makes them challenging to study as permanent objects, which is why I try use a variety of methods in order to capture the often nebulous form of the niche meme. Focusing on the aesthetic elements of these memes, the main platforms which they are distributed across, and the people who make and consume them can potentially provide a more well rounded understanding of specific communities and their memes.

Tools

NVivo to code interviews.

Credits

PhD Researcher: Idil Galip

Supervisors: Kate Orton-Johnson and Karen Gregory