“If You’re a Diehard Fan…” : Expressions of Fandom in Commercial and Non-Commercial Online Fan Communities

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Title: “If You’re a Diehard Fan…” : Expressions of Fandom in Commercial and Non-Commercial Online Fan Communities
Author: Kokko, Ida-Maria
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2017
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201802051214
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Viestintä
Media and Communication Studies
Medier och kommunikation
Abstract: Fans converse and unite with likeminded people who share the same objects of fandom. Modern technology has enabled the creation of online fan communities where fans express their identities and fandom. Along with fandom, fans are increasingly expressing their opinions online which has led to a more reciprocal, yet complex relationship between fans and producers. The aim of this master’s thesis is to study expressions of fandom in two online fan communities created for the video game franchise Tomb Raider: a commercial Facebook page administered by producers, and a non-commercial Facebook page administered by fans. This study also attempts to distinguish and explain potential similarities and differences in fans’ expressions of fandom between the two pages. This study relies on academic fandom studies and content analysis. Content analysis is applied to data collected from the two Facebook fan pages during the months of January, February, and March 2017. Obtained with Netvizz, an application developed by Rieder (2013) to extract specified Facebook content, the data comprises of anonymised posts and comments. It is classified into categories pertaining to Fiske’s (1992) conceptualisation of enunciative productivity and textual productivity as categories of fan productivity, which serves as a general theoretical framework for the study. According to the results, fans express their fandom on the two Facebook pages through enunciative productivity, such as fan talk and reminiscing and opinions and comparisons, and textual productivity, such as fan art, fan-made images and cosplay. Expressions of fandom are predominantly enunciative with lower amounts of textual productivity. The observed similarities between the pages concern the general themes of the pages, hegemonic topics of discussion among the fans, and forms of content and fan productivity. The results show differences in the structure, amount, and posting frequency of content, page objective, social dynamics between the administrators and the fans, and the general atmosphere of the page. The similarities and differences between expressions of fandom on the two Facebook pages can be explained by their distinct characteristics, size, and objectives as well as fans’ uses for the page. The commercial Facebook page is more official, larger in size, and it aims to motivate consumption whereas the non-commercial Facebook page is a smaller, safer place for fans to express their fandom. Fans use the commercial Facebook page for influential reasons, and the non-commercial Facebook page for recreational reasons.
Subject: Fandom
online community
fan productivity
social media

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