Transnational Cultural Fandom

Authored by: Hye-Kyung Lee

The Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409455622
eBook ISBN: 9781315612959
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043485


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In recent years, the socio-cultural, technological and geographical contexts where cultural fandom operates have changed noticeably. The advancement of consumerism has resulted in the abundance and diversification of popular culture and more generous social attitudes towards affective consumption of it. Meanwhile, the penetration of online communications and digital technologies in our everyday life of cultural consumption has made the conventional distinction between fans and ordinary consumers difficult to sustain: cultural texts and relevant knowledge that might have been an esoteric terrain of fandom in the past are now easily accessible and digital technologies greatly assist consumers’ engagement in productive activities around cultural products they admire (Busse and Gray 2011; Jenkins 2006). We are also witnessing an expansion and deepening of the interface between cultural fandom and cultural industries’ marketing schemes that see consumer participation and creativity as a new source for profit-making (Banks and Deuze 2009; van Dijck 2009; Ritzer and Jurgensen 2010; Zwick, Bonsu and Darmody 2008). Yet, the interface entails tension generated by the dissimilar logics of fandom and the industries’ commercial business, for instance the tension around copyrights (Lee 2011; Schwabach 2011; Tushnet 2007). Another visible trend is the ‘transnationalization’ of cultural fandom, denoting the tendency that previously local fandom has gone global and many places in the world have witnessed fan communities actively forming around popular cultural products from overseas. All these changes are interwoven, making contemporary fandom of popular culture an ambiguous and contentious phenomenon. Here, fan activities are no longer confined to a shadow cultural economy (Fiske 1992). Fans become powerful players in global cultural distribution (Green and Jenkins 2011; Lee 2011) and even an object of nation states’ cultural policy (Huang 2011; Iwabuchi 2002, 2010).

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