Research Output
Democratic Participation through Crocheted Memes.
  In a UK city, various crocheted protest banners have appeared, containing political statements concerning planned developments in their locations. Photos of these banners are shared across social media, raising awareness and potentially playing a role in local campaigns. This study explored peoples' perceptions of these banners as photos within social media interactions, focusing on how associated emotions or values influenced their views of the campaigns. The aim was to increase understanding of the impact of images within social media, both on engagement with offline situations and on propensity to forward (e.g., retweet). People who had posted or shared pictures of the banners were interviewed. The study is framed by considering the banners—in both yarn format and digital photos—as memes. This situates the study within contemporary research into public participation online, especially the ways in which information, disinformation, and emotions travel across social media, and the influence of this on democracy. This article uses diverse definitions of memes to draw out insights from the interview data, about participants' engagement with the banners and with the corresponding local issues, campaigns, and ultimately democracy. Interviewees were engaged by both the medium of the offline banners and the text embroidered onto them. In terms of the medium, the process of crochet was most important—indicating the time invested and encompassing memories. Interviewees were most engaged by banners concerning places they passed every day, though they did not agree with all the banners' messages. CCS CONCEPTS • Human-centered computing ➝ Social media

  • Date:

    18 July 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    ACM Press

  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    303 Social processes

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Taylor-Smith, E., Smith, C. F., & Smyth, M. (2018). Democratic Participation through Crocheted Memes. In SMSociety '18 Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Social Media and Society, (178-186).



Meme; social media; democracy; place; yarn; emotion

Monthly Views:

Available Documents
  • pdf

    Democratic Participation through Crocheted Memes.


    Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from

  • Downloadable citations