an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
This word originated in the 1970s and derives from the Greek word mimēma ‘that which is imitated.’ The word was coined by Richard Dawkins and can be found in the following books:
A meme then is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. (Think of genes, think of viruses.) Memes aim to convey (spread) a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning. (The meme may do this intentionally or unintentiinaly…)
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another mind. This transmission process may occur e.g., through writing, speech, gestures, or rituals.
Those that support this notion see memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. This video may help better explain memes and/or the concept of cultural evolution:
We are what we are because of genes; we are who we are because of memes. Philosopher Daniel Dennett muses on an idea put forward by Richard Dawkins in 1976.
p.s. “Cultural evolution” is a theory that states that human cultural change (changes in socially transmitted beliefs, knowledge, customs, skills, attitudes, languages, etc.) can be described as a Darwinian evolutionary process that is similar (but not identical) to biological and/or genetic evolution.
|Biological Evolution||Cultural Evolution|
|Traits can be transmitted to a person only from parents.||Culture traits can be transmitted to a person by many unrelated people.|
|Transmission can only occur from one generation to the next.||Transmission can be within or between generations and can be widely separated in time and space.|
|Occurs at a slow pace, with many generation needed to spread a trait widely through a population.||Occurs at a fast pace, may involve immediate learning and does not require inheritance.|
|Traits acquired in a lifetime cannot be transmitted via genetic inheritance.||Culture trails can be transmitted within a lifetime via teaching or imitation.|
|People cannot choose which genetic traits they will inherit.||People can choose to accept or reject some cultural traits.|
|Data transmitted is encoded by genetic material (DNA).||Data transmitted can assume the form of written or spoken language.|