Posts Tagged ‘Audience Studies’

Writing fan cultures: a dialogical performance of [aca]fandom

agosto 25, 2009

The speech will be presented at the conference “Transforming Audiences 2”. 3 September 2009, University of Westminster. London, UK.

“The contemporary media landscape is a complex global environment that recently evolved to a many-to-many communication channels of interactive technologies. In fact, due to the digital convergence, old and new media collided in a cross-media platform where the audiovisual narratives are created not only from the media industries (primary and secondary texts) but also from the grassroots participatory cultures (tertiary texts) (Jenkins 2006). Those sociotechnical changes affect also the way people manage their presentation of selves and interact in their everyday lives. In fact media audiences are evolving into networked publics (boyd 2008) that participate in the construction of niche peer cultures. It is the case of fans, consumers with an intense engagement with a media content, genre or celebrity, that adopt digital social media with the aim to communicate with like minded people. Fan cultures and special interest groups thus emerge from the ongoing interaction of the fans in different social spaces, that could be both online (fan communities) and offline (fan conventions).

My study focuses on how fan cultures can be understood as a starring system: a network of multifaceted and multisited individual and collective performances of fan audiencehood where the boundaries between media figures (and academics) and viewers are blurred. In fact, during an explorative ethnography on Italian television fandom I‘ve observed the emergence of a networked collectivism of amateur experts (Baym 2007) that performs their competence and their passion publishing tertiary texts as fansite, fanart (video remix, avatar, wallpaper, …), fanfiction and fansubs.

In order to describe the starring system from the point of view of the audiences, I argue that the researcher should embark on an ethnographic experience to dialogue with fans and to give narrative visibility to her identity as an aca/fan thus performing her audiencehood. For this reason I propose to combine an analytical auto-ethnography (Anderson 2006) with a multisited participant-observation.”