A meme is a theoretical unit of cultural information transmission that is reproduced (i.e. produced over and over again) on a large scale by active agents whose means of appropriation rely on the interplay between (pre-existing) biological, socio-cultural, and technological formations or assemblages.
A meme is:
- A theoretical unit of cultural information transmission that is indefinite.
- A widespread reproduction or re-appropriation of an existing cultural ‘thing’.
- Not just a veracious imitation according to one’s ability to perceive and copy.
- Not a reactive emotion (although emotions are often involved in the meme-process).
- But instead: a reproduction that is inferred by pre-existing knowledge and human intention.
- Dependent on biological, socio-cultural and technological formations.
- And on pre-existing memes that have already been circulating through culture.
In contrast to what prevalent notions of the meme concept suggest, including Dawkins, a meme cannot be viewed as a contagious entity which 'infects' people when crossing their paths. Although some ideas, concepts, or practices may be more attractive and have a greater chance of being appropriated, memes do not act in the same manner as biological viruses.