This Must Surely be the Way to Happiness!: Divergent “bite-size wisdoms” about Happiness in inspirational internet memes
The present study explores the contents and functions of inspirational memes addressing happiness in two cultural contexts, Finnish and Italian. Inspirational memes are understood as a mode of present-day folk wisdom conveying advice that can be easily memorized, shared and applied in everyday life. The material consists of 709 memes collected from Instagram and Facebook in 2019 (N=353 in Finnish; N=356 in Italian). The theoretical background of the study draws from social representation theory. The analysis shows that the contents and functions of inspirational memes addressing happiness are similar in the Finnish and Italian contexts. Five common themes were identified: “the self”, “the others”, “the life goal”, “the here & now”, and “the pointless search”. Furthermore, the social representation of happiness within the material is organized around a fundamental dichotomy: on the one hand, happiness can be built, and detailed advice is dispensed on how this can be achieved; on the other hand, building happiness is represented as an unattainable goal, and supporting this view is the idea that happiness is found in the moment. The dichotomy implies a social representation that emphasizes internal factors of the individual and plays down the role of external circumstances in achieving happiness.
Copyright (c) 2021 Jennifer De Paola, Eemeli Hakoköngäs
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Copyright for all manuscripts rests with the author(s). The editors reserve the right to edit manuscripts. Contributors are responsible for acquiring all permissions from the copyright owners for the use of quotations, illustrations, tables, etc. Each author must, before final publication fill, in a publishing agreement provided by LiU E-Press.
Since 2021 Culture Unbound uses a Creative Commons: Attribution license for new articles, which allows users to distribute the work and to reform or build upon it without the author's permission. Full reference to the author must be given. For older articles please see each article landing page.