Because "The Academy" is not very bright, and will only sign up for things that have "lunch paid by the government" printed upon them (i.e. the "Sexy Science"). For whatever reason (perhaps Stephen Kinzer's book about Sydney Gottlieb and the CIA quest for mind control has bearing here?) the government is not very interested in "atomistic" theories of thinking and thought. Additionally, there are built in biases within academia, in sub-cultures and sub-groups, and philosophical biases, trojan horse arguments, etc etc, politics, academic politics, partisan national-party politics, and philosophical, epistemological politics. Its a rats nest and a Gordian knot and a few other over-used metaphors all rolled into one.
If we take Humean or Lockean "Impressions" and "Ideas" (ignoring the slight differences between those two authors) to be roughly equivalent to "meme", there is a plain research program laid out before us, and it has already commenced; it is none other than "The Enlightenment". Take, for instance "Cybernetics" (term coined circa 1947), a passing fad, but an important one on the way to "Artificial Intelligence" (term coined 1955). Kubernetes, the Greek phrase from which cybernetics derives, means "steerer of the ship" and is closely related to the word governor (a discussion of which you will find in Plato's Republic, and in of his accounts of a Socratic dialogue). But at some point the metaphor of governance and feedback mechanisms (things which control the flow of intellect) was deemed less useful than the question of "What is intellect in the first place?".
Similarly, we might find that it matters not what we call the meme, or even its exact definition or physical instantiation. "Genes" are almost equally nebulous. The Human Genome was completed just last year (April 2022: though announced "completed" circa 2001) and we still aren't sure, precisely, how many genes there are in a human being, and are thus, far from knowing what they all do. I believe that reliable estimates put it at about 50,000. But "check yourself" if you think you know the present and future state of the "settled science". There is still much discovery to be made.
There is also fundamental disagreement on the proper "type" of philosophy of science, and even, in my view, the proper "philosophy of philosophy" (see Paul Thompson "Structure of Biological Theories" and Elisabeth Lloyd "Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory" for an entry-way into the debate over proper epsitemological procedure and symbolic representation of scientific theories. See, also, Gould (Wonderful Life, 1989) regarding the differences between the "hard sciences"--chemistry and physics--and the "historical sciences", like evolution, biology, natural history, geology, politics, cultural evolution, etc. These latter sciences have a heavy component of "one off", historical events, which cannot be replicated. In Gould's metaphor, the tape of life can not be rewound to the beginning and played through again. Chemistry and Physics can return to initial conditions, and rely almost exclusively on statistics and proper experimental methodology. So, for chemists and physicists, there is a built in bias against extending too far into what they see as a speculative realm. For biologists there is extreme guilt over previous extensions of atomistic and corporeal sciences into what they feel is a bit more ephemeral, perhaps even romantic, as the previous abuses of their science for ideological and nationalistic purposes were cause for horrible wars, imperialism and racist exterminations (this is reason enough to put the whole subject aside, except for the fact that the subject cannot be thrust aside: Try to NOT think of an elephant! You just failed!). For the technologist, it is both a promise of a perfect future and a fait accompli (See Brodie's and Lynch's early books on the subject). For the layman, clicking on the youtube click-bait, the meme has grasped and engrossed him/her completely, and he/she LOVES it. The debate is over, in the public's eye, and thus not worthy of research money and legitimization. The head of Harvard's psychology department in the early 2000s (Daniel Schacter) did his thesis work at the U of Toronto--and a book resulted--on Richard Semon whose book title, circa 1910, was, you guessed it "Die Mneme". This was no "flash in the pan", one-off guess of a book, and though it bears mentioning that Semon's "mneme" is NOT the same concept as Dawkin's "meme" it is at least seeking similar goal. Bertrand Russel covered Semon's work in his 1921 book "Analysis of Mind" and if one considers the world of tumult in Russel's philosophical and private and professional life during this time (think Wittgenstein, Tractatus, WWI, protest and imprisonment, etc.) this alone should recommend Semon to the modern academic. Semon was a trained and practicing German biologist and a contemporary of both Cajal and Golgi, both of whom won the Nobel prize in the same year, for their competing nervous system theories: Neuron Theory and Reticular Theory. It is easy to see why Semon's work was shuffled and forgotten, but some American Behaviorists latched on to a different Semonian term and it survives to this day: "The Engram". And here, again, it gets a little bit weird, since the founder of scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, also latched onto that particular phrase for his own various and sundry purposes.
So, in summary, there is good reason to study the meme (the concept of it, and the attempted application of it, as a concept-that-contains-all-concepts, to actual, empirically verifiable events), dispassionately, rigorously, and to follow the thread of its study, in its various forms, back to the beginning--as with most things scientific--probably to Aritstotle and his "Peri Mnemes Kai Anamneseos", "On Memory and Recollection". There are things in that work, that, upon my reading, could just as easily be discussing Ferrite Core Memories or the DRAM of your computer, as the neurons of your brain.
At the very least a sort of "Population Memetics", discussing and modelling distribution of ideas within and throughout and between and amongst various populations can easily be attempted. A further leap, I have made my life's work and purpose, is establishment of "Meyer's law" as the rule of thumb describing the construction of intelligent sentences in human languages. VN^2=S,which says that, for any natural or artificial intelligence possessing some N number of nouns, and V number of verbs, and a simple 3 element syntax of NVN (actually the order being arbitrary, so long as one of the six possible are consistently adhered to in actual practice and utilization: SVO, SOV, VSO, VOS, OVS, OSV), the number of Simple Semantic Sentences that can be constructed is equal to S. I derived this equation from the permutation and combination equations while I was studying for my GRE test, back in 2003. They STILL haven't allowed me into graduate school so that I may publish on an equal footing with "The Academy". I even fled to Canada and sought political asylum. No dice. They will NOT debate an intelligent person on the subject!
In short, there are too many romantic ideas about the freedom of the human mind to allow the scientists and materialists and mechanists to grab this final thing away from them. Never mind all the good (and bad) we mechanists have brought them before, the human mind is a bridge too far. The public and the government want it to be a secret, but probably for different, and possibly opposing, reasons.
One final note, is the back-biting and back-stabbing, only briefly alluded to above, that goes on in certain sectors of academia. I would suggest that this maybe occurs, mostly, where there are still "singular intellect" academicians, as the massively parallel efforts of the large research groups these days probably favors collaboration over the petty bickering and interminable debates that routinely characterize the "memetics controversy". And that's when the controversy is even acknowledged. More often than not the best refutation is to ignore the assertions entirely and pretend like they don't exist. A social death, for a social idea. But that's where the technologists, and their ethically-challenged, unscrupled economic backers come in. They will push the "idea" idea--the "meme" meme--and often with their own priorities in clear view.
(Do, also, note that Russell abandoned his "atomistic philosophy" around the time he met Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein published his "Tractatus" after WWI, around the time Rusell wrote "Analysis of Mind", and abandoned it not long after, embarking on other philosophical adventures. Turing Attended Wittgenstein's lectures in 1939 and after the war worked with Mike Woodger ion the Pilot ACE computer. Mike Woodger's father, as late as in the mid 1930s, was axiomatizing biological theory in a manner similar to the method that Russel had abandoned, upon Wittgenstein's now recounted recommendations. Paul McCartney knocked on Russel's door one day, and was invited in for tea. Vietnam was discussed. He went home and "told the lads", but "John was the one who really pushed" for peace. "All the World is All that is the Case"? "All You Need is Love"? A fitting (and unwitting?) tribute to David Hume Pinsent? Perhaps? There are more than a few striking similarities in the texts. I was born 24 years after, and 45 miles North of, the place where the phrase "Artificial Intelligence" was coined. I am from history--and for the future! You are too. We have MUCH to say on the subject, still .... )