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Title:Communication, interpretation, and relationship: A study of a computer-mediated fan community
Author(s):Baym, Nancy Kirsten
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Miller, Peggy J.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Speech Communication
Mass Communication
Computer Science
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on the creation of community in a computer-mediated Usenet newsgroup called "" (r.a.t.s.) which discusses soap operas. In newsgroups, communicative practice is the participants' primarily tool for creating social meanings. My central question is how participants create group coherence in this terrain with neither places nor faces.
Because the participants are first and foremost soap opera fans, my answers begin with the literatures on soap operas and on fan communities. Chapter One synthesizes work from a variety of research perspectives, including mass communication, cultural studies, and literary studies, in order to elucidate how the soap genre invites particular viewer practices. In Chapter Two I look beyond how soap texts engage fans to how soap fans engage one another and create fan cultures. While the work on fan culture is rich in its understanding of how fans appropriate and transform cultural texts, it lacks a clear conceptualization of culture. In Chapter Three I remedy this by turning to practice theories of culture, which provide the key questions and methods that underlie my analysis.
The remaining four chapters address the questions of what institutional structures shape r.a.t.s., what practices are most important, what formal cues are used to create social meaning, what affective stances are conveyed through practice, how individuality and solidarity are created, and what purposes underlie r.a.t.s. practice. Chapter Four provides a broad overview of r.a.t.s. and its communication practices. Chapter Five examines the explicit marking of genres. Chapter Six analyzes social alignment in r.a.t.s., focusing on participants' agreements and at how they handle the socially problematic task of disagreeing with one another. Chapter Seven looks closely at the humorous performances which are so central to the appeal of r.a.t.s. Together these analyses detail the creation of a social world in r.a.t.s. and build a framework for the analysis of other computer-mediated groups.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Baym, Nancy Kirsten
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512297
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512297

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