Depiction of the Balkans on Internet Memes from 9GAG

  • Veczán Zoltán
doi: 10.17646/KOME.2023.1.3


Contrary to all the techno-optimistic expectations regarding the liberating and equalising impacts of online communication – especially of web 2.0 and the emerging social media – stereotypes and oppressive practices are still widespread in discourses on online platforms in many online genres, including Internet memes or meme-aggregating platforms. Researchers have studied many aspects of emergence of stereotypes regarding skin colour, sexual orientation, or gender, but there is a notable research gap in analysing stereotypes towards a special region of Europe: the Balkan Peninsula and its nations. What is more, no research can be found that examines Balkan stereotypes in Internet memes, especially not in a quantitative way on a larger sample. Working with 595 meme specimens from the popular 9GAG portal, this research seeks to learn more about this phenomenon: to find signs of the asymmetric relationship between the Western centrum and the periphery or semi-periphery, as represented by the Balkan states. This study seeks to identify the critical elements of how these stereotypes are displayed, and to compare these elements and their correlations. Another dimension of this research is a review of audience reactions as gauged by “likes”, comments and relative popularity. 


memes social media stereotypes audience research

How to Cite

Veczán, Z. (2023). Depiction of the Balkans on Internet Memes from 9GAG. KOME, 11(1), 61–94.


Babkou, I. (2012). A modern/posztkoloniális a kelet-európai határvidéken [The Modern/Postcolonial at the Eastern European Borderland]. Szépirodalmi Figyelő, 11(4), 27–41.

Bakić-Hayden, M. (1995). Nesting Orientalisms: The Case of Former Yugoslavia. Slavic Review, 54(4), 917–931. Online:

Bergsieker, H. B., Leslie, L. M., Constantine, V. S., Fiske, S. T. (2012). Stereotyping by Omission: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate the Positive. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1214–1238. Online:

Berlo, D. K. (1960). The process of communication: An introduction to theory and practice. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Billig, M. (2005). Laughter and Ridicule. Towards a Social Critique of Humour. SAGE Publications. Online:

Böröcz, J. (2001). Introduction: Empire and Coloniality in the “Eastern Enlargement” of the European Union. In Böröcz, J., Kovács, M., Engel-Di Mauro, S., Sher, A., Dancsi, K., Kabachnik, P. (eds.): Empire’s New Clothes: Unveiling EU Enlargement. Central Europe Review e-books. 4–50.

Börzsei, L. (2013). Makes a Meme Instead. A Concise History of Internet Memes. Utrecht University. Online:

Burgers, C., Van Mulkin, M., Schellens, P. J. (2012). Verbal Irony: Differences in Usage across Written Genres. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 31(3), 290–310.

Crampton, R. J., Allcock, J. B., Danforth, L. (2023). Balkans. Online:

Czopp, A. M., Monteith, M. J., Mark, A. Y. (2006). Standing Up for a Change: Reducing Bias through Interpersonal Confrontation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 784–803. Online:

Denisova, A. (2019). Internet Memes and Society. Social, Cultural, and Political Contexts. New York: Routledge. Online:

Drakett, J., Rickett, B., Day, K., Milnes, K. (2018). Old jokes, New Media – Online Sexism and Constructions of Gender in Internet Memes. Feminism & Psychology, 28(1), 109–127.

Eurostat (2022). Digital Economy and Society Statistics – Households and Individuals. Online:

Foucault, M. (1980). Body/Power. In Gordon, C. (ed.): Power/Knowledge. Selected Interviews and Other Writings. New York: Pantheon Books.

Glick, P., Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating Hostile and Benevolent Sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 491–512. Online:

Goldsworthy, V. (1998). Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination. Yale University. Holmes, J. G. (2000). Social Relationships: The Nature and Function of Relational Schemas. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30(4), 447–495. Online:<447::AIDEJSP10>3.0.CO;2-Q

Ibroscheva, E. (2002). Is There Still an Evil Empire? The Role of the Mass Media in Depicting Stereotypes of Russians and Eastern Europeans. Global Media Journal, 1(1). Online:

Jackson, R. L., Shin, C. I., Wilsob, K. B. (2000). The Meaning of Whiteness: Critical Implications of Communicating and Negotiating Race. World Communication, 29(1), 69–86.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Media Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Jenkins, H., Li, X., Krauskopf, A., Green, J. (2009). If It Does Not Spread, It’s Dead. New York: MIT Press New York.

Juraga, D. (1996). Literature, History, and Postcolonial Cultural Identity in Africa and the Balkans: The Search for a Usable Past in Farah, Ngugi, Krleza, and Andric. University of Arkansas.

Kilic, B. (2017). Communicative Potentials of Internet Memes in Cyberspace of Turkey: An Analysis of Caps Culture. MA thesis.

Kiossev, A. (1995). The Self-Colonization Cultures. In Ginev, D., Sejersted, F., Simeonova, K. (eds.): Cultural Aspects of the Modernisation Process. Oslo: TMV-senteret.

Knobel, M., Lankshear, C. (2007). Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production. In Knobel, M., Lankshear, C. (eds.): A New Literacies Sampler. New York: Peter Lang. 199–228.

Kucuk, S. U. (2015). A Semiotic Analysis of Consumer-Generated Antibranding. Marketing Theory, 15(2), 243–264.

Leiser, A. (2019). Media, Citizens and Participatory Culture: Uses and Effects of Political Internet Memes. PhD thesis.

León, S., Correa-Beltrán, G., Giacaman, R. A. (2013). Negative Ageing Stereotypes in Students and Faculty Members from Three Health Science Schools. Gerodontology, 32(2), 141–148. Online:

Madon, S., Guyll, M., Aboufadel, K., Montiel, E., Smith, A., Palumbo, P., Jussim, J. (2001). Ethnic and National Stereotypes: The Princeton Trilogy Revisited and Revised. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(8), 996–1010.

Milner, R. (2013). Media Lingua Franca: Fixity, Novelty, and Vernacular Ccreativity in Internet Memes. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 3. Online:

Milner, R. (2016). The World Made Meme. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Moore, D. C. (2008). Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Towards a Global Postcolonial Critique. Baltic Postcolonialism. New York: Rodopi.

Nissenbaum, A., Shifman, L. (2017). Internet memes as contested cultural capital: The case of 4chan’s /b/board. New Media & Society, 19(4), 483–501. Online:

Nissenbaum, A., Segev, E., Stolero, N., Shifman, L. (2015). Families and Networks of Internet Memes: The Relationship Between Cohesiveness, Uniqueness, and Quiddity Concreteness. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20(4), 417–433. Online:

Phillips, W. (2015). This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Phillips, W. (2019). It Wasn’t Just the Trolls: Early Internet Culture, “Fun,” and the Fires of Exclusionary Laughter. Social Media + Society, 5(2). Online:

Ritzer, G., Jurgenson, N. (2010). Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The nature of capitalism in the age of the digital “prosumer”. Journal of Consumer Culture, 10(1), 13–36. Online:

Shifman, L. (2014). Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Sreekumar, T. T., Vadrevu, S. (2013). Online political memes and Youth Political engagement in Singapore. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 3.

Taecharungroj, V., Nueangjamnong, P. (2015). Humour 2.0: Styles and Types of Humour and Virality of Memes on Facebook. Journal of Creative Communications, 10(3), 288–302. Online:

Todorova, M. (1997). Imagining the Balkans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Toffler, A. (1980). The Third Wave. New York: William Morrow.

Wang, X., Juffermans, K., Du, C. (2016). Harmony as Language Policy in China: An Internet Perspective. Language Policy, 15(3), 299–321. Online:

Weaver, S. (2010). The “Other” Laughs Back: Humor and Resistance in Anti-racist Comedy. Sociology, 44(1), 31–48. Online:

Wolff, L. (1994). Inventing Eastern Europe. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Yoon, I. (2016). Why Is It not Just a Joke? Analysis of Internet Memes Associated with Racism and Hidden Ideology of Colorblindness. Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, 33, 92–123.

Zerubave, E. (2018). Taken for Granted. The Remarkable Power of the Unremarkable. Princeton: Princeton University Press.