From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity

Matthew Hills

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on how fan‐celebrity para‐social interactions have been theorized. It argues that the concept of the “para‐social”, a type of imagined rather than co‐present social relationship, has not only been spuriously contrasted to “actual” sociability, but that attempts to view para‐social interactions between fans and celebrities as “truly” social fail to adequately consider how the social itself involves imaginary and fantasized aspects. Both attacks on, and defenses of, fan‐celebrity “para‐social” interactions have tended to reductively characterize “social” relationships. It then considers how digital fandom has reconfigured debates around the “para‐social”: if this has been positioned as “mediated quasi‐interaction”. The chapter also argues that the concept of para‐social interaction is problematized not only by the social/para‐social binary, but also by its focus on an assumed social dyad. The para‐social is neither wholly normalized nor displaced within a Web 2.0 social media environment; instead, it becomes multisocial.

Citing Literature
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Celebrity
EditorsP. David Marshall, Sean Redmond
Place of PublicationMalden
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781118475089
ISBN (Print)9781118475010
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2015


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