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Television fan distinctions and identity: An analysis of 'quality' discourses and threats to 'ontological security'

Williams, Rebecca SIan 2008. Television fan distinctions and identity: An analysis of 'quality' discourses and threats to 'ontological security'. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis contributes to the existing literature in fan and audience research, particularly within television studies. By focusing upon issues of identity, ontological security, and cultural value, this thesis proposes a conceptualisation of fandom which accounts for inherent dualisms such as the tension between community and hierarchy, and the internal importance of fandom to individuals and the impact of external social factors. Whist prior work has failed to adequately theorise such contradictions, this thesis draws on the work of sociologists Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens to propose that we view fandom as forms of 'pure relationship' which enable fans to negotiate their self-identities, gain trust and comfort, and accrue levels of fan power. These ideas are demonstrated via empirical data generated by a cross comparative multi fandom case study of three online fan communities devoted to the television programmes Big Brother UK7, Neighbours, and The West Wing. This thesis demonstrates that fans across different fandoms make distinctions regarding the 'quality' of their chosen fan objects, those who create them, and the position of fellow fans. They also rely upon the routines and repetitions of television scheduling to provide them with ontological security and a sense of trust in the fan object. This thesis also examines the results when this trust is undermined by unwelcome narrative developments or the total cessation of the fan object, which this work uniquely theorises as 'post-object fandom'. Furthermore, fan practices are enacted within the specific arena of the broadcasting field, and this thesis situates the battles over fan objects between producers and fans within the context of this field. Thus, this thesis proposes a theoretical model which considers fandom as a community and a hierarchical site of struggles over power and capital, accounts for the internal impact of an individual's fandom on their sense of self, and treats fan/object and fan/fan relationships equally.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
ISBN: 9781303184796
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2017 08:27

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