Fans follow their idols, but are also socially engaged

Fans and citizenships

Much of our recent research has focused on exploring and analyzing fan practices, discourses, and communities as participating researchers. We approach the topic through ethnographic studies, analytics strategies supported by big data.

Fans are people who gather around an object or person they admire and, at the same time, share their feelings with other people, interacting through fan communities. Traditionally, their practices have been mediated by the mass media. Many fan communities arose around the television, but today they exist also supported by social networks.

Media convergence

Fan practices are closely linked to media convergence. We relate this process to situations in which multiple platforms coexist, while media contents flow through them. Fans, both children and youths, are immersed in these universes. We analyze how they re-construct digital and analogical media messages, and how a collective imagination that shapes their identities emerges from these processes.

We talk about citizenship because when people participate in fan communities, they express, at least to some extent, a civic commitment that means sharing and acting in relation to the values of their community. For this reason, when analyzing youth activities in these communities, political practices are discussed, understanding the terms widely and going far beyond what it means for adults, maybe to vote in a democratic society.

Who inspires us

We explored fandom from different theoretical models that can to some extent be considered prototypical. Two theoretical models are inspiring our recent work

  • The first is linked to the seminal works of Henry Jenkins (2013), Textual poachers: television fans, and participatory culture (2nd edition). Fans are the interpreters and creators of texts, which are dependent upon certain social conditions that guide their reception, creation, and distribution.
  • A second model is that presented by Duffett (2013), in his book Understanding fandom: an introduction to the study of media fan culture, which insists on the emotional dimension and the tie with the idol.