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Title:Orienting fandom: the discursive production of sports and speculative media fandom in the Internet era
Author(s):Stanfill, Melissa K
Director of Research:Cole, CL; Somerville, Siobhan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cole, C.L.; Somerville, Siobhan
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McCarthy, Cameron R.; Chan, Anita
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
media studies
media industry
participatory culture
interactive media
speculative media
media representation
Web design
Abstract:This project inquires into the constitution and consequences of the changing relationship between media industry and audiences after the Internet. Because fans have traditionally been associated with an especially participatory relationship to the object of fandom, the shift to a norm of media interactivity would seem to position the fan as the new ideal consumer; thus, I examine the extent to which fans are actually rendered ideal and in what ways in order to assess emerging norms of media reception in the Internet era. Drawing on a large archive consisting of websites for sports and speculative media companies; interviews with industry workers who produce content for fans; and film, television, web series, and news representations from 1994-2009 in a form of qualitative big data research—drawing broadly on large bodies of data but with attention to depth and texture—I look critically at how two media industries, speculative media and sports, have understood and constructed a normative idea of audiencing. The project considers how digital media have influenced consumption, including through transmedia storytelling that spreads content across multiple delivery platforms. I also interrogate the conditions of labor in the realm of fandom, with particular attention to the relationship between industry labor and unpaid user labor. Third, the project examines which fan bodies are recruited by industry in terms of race, gender, age, and sexuality. I contend that fandom has gone from being seen as something that periodically happened to media to being interpreted as something endemic to manage. In this orientation toward management, media organizations encourage particular practices in a way that, at a general level, produces, disseminates, and reinforces a norm of proper media use. This redefinition functions to transform and reorient the threatening or unruly fan into a domesticated, useful one, maintaining industry imperatives to the exclusion of other claims on media through the very figure of challenge itself.
Issue Date:2015-04-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Melisa Stanfill
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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