From Fan Culture/Community to the Fan World: Possible Pathways and Ways of Having Done Fandom

Matt Hills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I revisit concepts of fan culture and community, which have been central to fan studies. Critiques of subcultural theory, along with fandom’s fragmentation into “traditional” fans and “brand fans,” have suggested that media fandom cannot be viewed as a coherent culture or community. Consequently, I consider how a concept of fan world addresses some of these emergent critiques of fan culture/community, setting out what a world theory can offer current debates surrounding fandom. I draw particularly on Howard Becker’s approach to art worlds (Becker, 2008) and Steven Connor’s overview ofworld concepts (Connor, 2010). This allows me to elaborate on a model of the fan world, moving away from a position where world theories have usually been adopted in relation to franchises’ world building to think about the platforms and pathways through which fandom is performed today. Ways of “having done fandom” are chosen, more or less reflexively, by fans from an array of communal and individualized possibilities. And “paths not taken” become counterfactual as fans follow certain branches of fan activity but not others, developing specific forms of fan specialization and positioning rather than others (Giddens, 1991). The fan world represents this open necessity of having to choose particular fan pathways within the contemporary “participatory condition,” itself being comprised of all possible versions and branches of fan identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-883
Number of pages28
JournalPalabra Clave
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


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