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Thinking fan's rock band : R.E.M. fandom and negotiations of normativity in Murmurs.com.

Bennett, Lucy Kathryn 2009. Thinking fan's rock band : R.E.M. fandom and negotiations of normativity in Murmurs.com. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

This thesis analyses how normative behaviour is negotiated within Murmurs, an online community for fans of rock band R.E.M. Undertaken as a cyber-ethnography, I examine the manner in which normative identity is constructed in Murmurs through masculinised Liberal intelligentsia 'central values' of the R.E.M. fan's subcultural homology, such as tolerance, good will and equality, the rejection of which works to define the Other in the community. I demonstrate how the object of fandom as the 'thinking fan's rock band' works to reflect and reinforce these 'central values' and the processes through which they are explicitly enforced by the community hierarchy through strategies of power. My findings therefore show that normative behaviour in Murmurs is not a given, but requires continuous maintenance and governance. In conjunction with compliance to the homologous values, I identify in Murmurs how normativity can be achieved by strict adherence to four other key practices: reading in the 'right way,' assuming the correct gendered discourse, participating in the exchange of knowledge with other fans and maintaining a focus on the object of fandom. To analyse the processes of negotiation further, and in an effort to redress the inadequacies in the field of literature surrounding online communities and fan cultural norms regarding oppositional intra-communal fan identities, I examine through case studies the activities of three non-normative groups within Murmurs (Trobes, Droolers and Pointless Posters), determining how the community negotiates different types of fan behaviour that are seemingly a threat to normative conduct. However, quite notably, my analysis is conducted from a unique 'insider' position in that, in addition to being an ethnographic researcher in the virtual field, I am both an R.E.M. fan and member of Murmurs' subcultural police, an official role which involves my active participation in the enforcement and governance of this non-normative Other in Murmurs. By doing this, I challenge the assumed existence of a consistently singular, or cohesive, identity in an online fan community. My conclusion in the thesis therefore rests upon a recommendation that future studies in this field should move away from assumptions of singularity and instead attempt to understand oppositional fan identities by examining the power relations surrounding them, and the processes through which fans negotiate normative identity within a community.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
ISBN: 9781303195464
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 21:00
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/54358

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