A meme is a theoretical notion, postulating the existence of core creative ideas or cultural knowledge, having a propensity for transmission between between people using words, gestures and other imitable behaviors. A meme can be thought of as the fundamental particle of human ideas or a virus of the mind, spreading between people, infecting human culture.
A meme is that song you hear on the radio that you can’t get out of your head or that new fashion that everyone starts wearing or an an old saying, such as “a penny saved is a penny earned” that gets passed from generation to generation intact. Those are just a few examples of many memes that fill our heads.
Sociobiolist Richard Dawkins first introduced the term meme (rhymes with dream) , in his groundbreaking 1976 book, the Selfish Gene. The Selfish Gene was the book which popularized the then new area of scientific inquiry, sociobiology, a field focusing on what evolutionary biology can tell us about social behavior.
Dawkins suggests that the preponderance of human behavior can be accounted for by inherited trait, encoded in our genes. Just as there are genes which account for physical characteristics such as hair color or height, there are also genes which manifest propensities toward behaviors.
Subsections of The Gene and the Meme