School of Communication and the Arts


Master of Arts in Strategic Communication (MA)


John Dunkle


Generation Z, Memes, Communication




As Generation Z becomes the newest generation to enter adulthood, it is valuable to understand their thought processes and communication patterns. Individuals of Generation Z are known to be digital natives, as they were born into a world of technology with the internet at their fingertips. Understanding Generation Z's use of memes is an area where little research has been done so far. The purpose of this study was to determine how Generation Z interprets and communicates with memes on the internet and social media platforms. Unlike previous research, this study analyzed the participants' perceptions, which further contributes to an understanding of this generation. This study used the Speech Act Theory to analyze how Generation Z interprets the visual portion of a meme and what Generation Z communicates through memes. This qualitative research study interviewed 16 members of Generation Z in which they created three memes from a provided template and explained their creative process. Findings indicate that Generation Z views memes as symbolic images and uses them to share concepts about themselves, recent experiences, or relatable events that occur in everyday life in a humorous way.

Included in

Communication Commons