Memes as Shortcut to Consumer Culture: A Methodological Approach to Covert Collective Ideologies

Main Article Content

Elisa Priori de Deus orcid
Roberta Dias Campos orcid
Ana Raquel Rocha orcid


Objective: the paper proposes the methodological use of memes as a shortcut to explore consumer culture. Memes as cultural texts can reveal collective circulating ideologies that may not be accessed through regular interviews. Context: memes are cultural texts that convey easy-to-understand messages, gaining strength within social networks. Cultural texts playfully present the social context and beliefs of societies. We analyzed circulating memes during the COVID-19 pandemic about elderly consumers in Brazil to outline a methodological protocol. Method: we analyzed memes adopting the discourse model to conduct qualitative research of memes as a shortcut to cultural discourses. We collected memes during March and May 2020 using social media networks. They were classified following thematic analysis. Result: the proposal is a methodological procedure for analyzing memes as a cultural text. The process starts with the outline of a data collection protocol, followed by data analysis guidelines, illustrated by the context of elderly consumers. Conclusion: the analysis of memes as cultural texts contributed to understanding of consumer behavior through current cultural content, revealing contrasting ideologies that emerge from consumers, as covert value-systems, circulating alongside institutional mass-mediated ideologies.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Deus, E. P. de, Campos, R. D., & Rocha, A. R. (2022). Memes as Shortcut to Consumer Culture: A Methodological Approach to Covert Collective Ideologies. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 26(4), e210005.
Methodological Articles


Abreu, R. G., & Casotti, L. M. (2018). Turismo na terceira idade sob a ótica da transformative consumer research. Revista Turismo em Análise, 29(2), 255-272.
Abreu, R. G., & Casotti, L. M. (2020). Viagens que transformam a condição existencial: Narrativas e representações em filmes protagonizados por idosos. Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa em Turismo, 14(3), 14-31.
AdoroCinema (2020). Os Muppets. Retrieved from
Anapol, A. (2020, August 06). Documenting a ‘viral’ pandemic: Why memes are the most apt way to communicate about Covid-19. PanMeMic. Retrieved from
Arnould, E. J., & Thompson, C. J. (2005). Consumer culture theory (CCT): Twenty years of research. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(4), 868-882.
Askegaard, S. (2010). Experience economy in the making: Hedonism, play and coolhunting in automotive song lyrics. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 13(4), 351-371.
Blackmore, S. (2000). The power of memes. Scientific American, 283(4), 52-61.
Borgerson, J., & Miller, D. (2016). Scalable sociality and “How the world changed social media”: Conversation with Daniel Miller. Consumption Markets & Culture, 19(6), 520-533.
Börzsei, L. K. (2013). Makes a meme instead: A concise history of internet memes. New Media Studies Magazine, 7(March).
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.
Brownlie, D., Hewer, P., & Horne, S. (2005). Culinary tourism: An exploratory reading of contemporary representations of cooking. Consumption Markets & Culture, 8(1), 7-26.
Brownlie, D., & Hewer, P. (2007). Prime beef cuts: Culinary images for thinking ‘men’. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 10(3), 229-250.
Campos, R. D. (2009). Be beautiful on the TV screen: Patterns of beauty and imagery in cultural television texts. Proceedings of Encontro Nacional da Associação Nacional de Pós-Graduação e Pesquisa em Administração, 33, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Cova, B., & Cova, V. (2009). Faces of the new consumer: A genesis of consumer governmentality. Recherche et Applications en Marketing (English Edition), 24(3), 81-99.
Davison, P. (2009). The language of internet memes. In M. Mandiberg (Ed.), The social media reader (pp. 120-134). New York: NYU Press.
Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. New York: Oxford University Press.
Debert, G. G. (2000). O significado da velhice na sociedade brasileira. Acta Paulista de Enfermagem, 13(Spe1), 147-158. Retrieved from
Faria, M. D., & Casotti, L. M. (2014). Representações e estereótipos das pessoas com deficiência como consumidoras: O drama dos personagens com deficiência em telenovelas brasileiras. Organizações & Sociedade, 21(70), 387-404.
Freeman, L., & Bell, S. (2013). Women’s magazines as facilitators of Christmas rituals. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16(3), 336-354.
Gannon, V., & Prothero, A. (2016). Beauty blogger selfies as authenticating practices. European Journal of Marketing, 50(9/10), 1858-1878.
Goia, M. R., Lima, M. B., & Barros, L. S. G. (2018). The deviation game: Can deviation from standard beauty become appealing? An age perspective. Revista Brasileira de Marketing, 17(4), 459-471.
Goldenberg, M. (2011). Corpo, envelhecimento e felicidade na cultura brasileira. Contemporânea (Título não-corrente), 9(2), 77-85. Retrieved from
GShow. (2020, August 06). Famosos resumem a quarentena e o ano de 2020 com montagem de fotos em desafio de memes na web. Gshow. Retrieved from
Hirschman, E. C. (1988). The ideology of consumption: A structural-syntactical analysis of “Dallas” and “Dynasty”. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(3), 344-359.
Hirschman, E. C. (2000). Consumers’ use of intertextuality and archetypes. Advances in Consumer Research, 27, 57-63. Retrieved from
Hirschman, E. C., & Stern, B. B. (1994). Women as commodities: Prostitution as depicted in the blue angel, pretty baby, and pretty woman. Advances in Consumer Research, 21, 576-581. Retrieved from
Hirschman, E. C., Scott, L., & Wells, W. B. (1998). A model of product discourse: Linking consumer practice to cultural texts. Journal of Advertising, 27(1), 33-50.
Holbrook, M. B. (2008). Music meanings in movies: The case of the crime-plus-jazz genre. Consumption Markets & Culture, 11(4), 307-327.
Holt, D. B. (2003). What becomes an icon most?. Harvard Business Review, 81(3), 43-49. Retrieved from
Humphreys, A. (2010). Semiotic structure and the legitimation of consumption practices: The case of casino gambling. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(3), 490-510.
Humphreys, A., & Latour, K. A. (2013). Framing the game: Assessing the impact of cultural representations on consumer perceptions of legitimacy. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(4), 773-795.
Lanier, C. D., Jr., Rader, C. S., & Fowler, A. R., III. (2013). Anthropomorphism, marketing relationships, and consumption worth in the Toy Story trilogy. Journal of Marketing Management, 29(1-2), 26-47.
Lanka, E., Topakas, A., & Patterson, M. (2020). Becoming a leader: Catalysts and barriers to leader identity construction. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 29(3), 377-390.
Lee, M. M., Carpenter, B., & Meyers, L. S. (2007). Representations of older adults in television advertisements. Journal of Aging Studies, 21(1), 23-30.
Luedicke, M. K., Thompson, C. J., & Giesler, M. (2010). Consumer identity work as moral protagonism: How myth and ideology animate a brand-mediated moral conflict. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(6), 1016-1032.
Malhotra, N. K., Hall, J., Shaw, M., & Oppenheim, P. P. (2008). Essentials of marketing research: An applied orientation (2 ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
McDonald, T., & Dan, L. (2020). “Pulling the sheep’s wool”: The labor of online thrift in a Chinese factory. Journal of Consumer Culture.
Miller, D. (2020, April 24). Memes – the moral police of the internet in the time of Covid-19. Anthrocovid. Retrieved from
Miller, D., Costa, E., Haynes, N., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Sinanan, J., Spyer, J., Venkatraman, S., & Wang, X. (2020). How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press.
Miller, D., Costa, E., Haynes, N., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Sinanan, J., Spyer, J., Venkatraman, S., & Wang, X. (2019). Como o mundo mudou as mídias sociais. London: UCL Press.
Motomura, M. (2018, July 04). Cães apanhados na rua realmente viram sabão? SuperInteressante. Retrieved from
Neri, M. (2020). Onde estão os idosos? Conhecimento contra o COVID-19. Retrieved from
Perissé, C., & Marli, M. (2019, March 19). Idosos indicam caminhos para uma melhor idade. Agência de Notícias. Retrieved from,divulgada%20em%202018%20pelo%20IBGE
Ramos, R. C., Tayt-Son, D. B. C., & Rocha, A. R. C. (2020). A volta da marmita: Ressignificação do consumo à luz da teoria da prática. Proceedings of the Encontro Nacional da Associação Nacional de Pós-Graduação e Pesquisa em Administração, 44, Online.
Reis, D., Jr. (2013). Objetos do baú: Ficha telefônica. Retrieved from
Rodrigues, L. R., & Soares, G. A. (2006). Velho, idoso e terceira idade na sociedade contemporânea. Revista Ágora, (4). Retrieved from
Rosenthal, B., Cardoso, F., & Abdalla, C. (2021). (Mis)representations of older consumers in advertising: Stigma and inadequacy in ageing societies. Journal of Marketing Management, 37(5-6), 569-593.
Saldaña, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Suarez, M., Motta, P. C., & Barros, C. (2009). Consumo e castigo: Um retrato das relações de consumo no seriado A Diarista. In A. Rocha & J. F. Silva (Orgs.), Consumo na base da pirâmide: Estudos Brasileiros. Rio de Janeiro: Mauad X.
Tadajewski, M., & Hamilton, K. (2014). Waste, art, and social change: Transformative consumer research outside of the academy?. Journal of Macromarketing, 34(1), 80-86.
Thompson, C. J. (2004). Marketplace mythology and discourses of power. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(1), 162-180.