The “Hobbyist” Fan Identity

This weeks topic will be our third Fan identity topic out of the four fan identity blogs I am planning on doing. This weeks fan identity focuses on hobbyists. Many people have hobby’s and these hobby’s vary widely, from knitting and stamp collecting to building cars and flying planes. There sone thing that all hobbies have in common, it is that people are actively engaged in the community centred around this hobby. This is one of the major differences that struck me when comparing hobbyists to individuals from our last two topics, sports fans and cosplayers. Hobbyists have a larger degree of participation in their “imagined community”. This leads to a more active “fan identity”, which means that hobbyist’s should have a larger behavioural change resolution from our previously discussed social identity theory. Another, new theory that I will be looking at is the “profit hypothesis”, which is when the perceived benefits of taking part in an activity exceed the perceived costs, and it can be used to explain continued engagement in serious leisure activities. this theory, however, was replaced by the social identity theory, and using “hobbyists”, I will discuss why the social identity theory not only works, but works better than the perceived costs theory. For hobbyists there are three reasons that i will be looking at for why they continue to perform certain activities in their leisure time, in-group favouritism, out-group derogation, and comparative optimism. Hobbyists have a “lack of professionalism”, meaning that amateurs who perform hobby’s don not really have a clear idea what it means to be a professional in the area of their hobby. I will be using these terms in my conclusion blog with all three groups next week.

In-group favoratism is a pattern of favoring members of one’s in-group over out-group members. This can be seen greatly in both sports and hobbyist fan ideas, and to a lesser degree in cosplayer fan identities. The difference for hobbyists fan identity compared to a sports fan identity, however, is that the determining factor for a individual being part of the in-group is that they must be take part in that specific hobby. For hobbyists it isn’t “our group vs. that group” but instead “our group vs. everyone else”, because only hobbyists of that specific hobby will be part of the “in-group”, where everyone else will be a participant of the “out-group”. Hobbyists do not have to stay to one hobby as well, they may have multiple hobby’s and be part of multiple “in-groups” among theses hobby’s. Also, among hobbyists there is usually a degree of “seniority” involved in determining the how individuals in the “in-group” are treated. Hobbyists who are new to the hobby are treated distinctively different to individuals who have been active in this hobby for longer. These difference in treatment can vary, from some hobbyists taking a mentor like relationship with less senior hobbyists, to some hobbyists treating new hobbyists with dislike, almost as if they don’t belong in the “in-group”.

Out-group derogation is the phenomenon in which an out-group is perceived as being threatening to the members of an in-group. This effects the hobbyist identity in many different ways based on their perception of the out-group. Some hobbyists are concerned that individuals from the out-group will mock their choice in hobby’s, because they themselves somehow see their hobby as being different or strange, an may have experience mocking in the past. Some individuals use their hobby to create friends by befriending other who share their passion for this hobby, which means that they grow to dislike other who do not share their hobby. This arises when they begin to associate fellow in-group hobbyists as their friends, and since they use their hobby to make friends, they have little friends outside of this hobby. This results in out-groupers being associated with people that they have negative experiences with, ad fuels this “us vs. everyone” mentality. The out-group derogation can be best explained by showing how it can kill small hobby shops. Small hobby shops usually pander to only a certain amount of select hobby’s, which means that it usually has a collection of experienced hobbyists as there central clientele. Employees who work at these shops can develop an out group derogation, as they associate positive experiences with their loyal experienced hobbyists, and treat newer costumers, who are not part of this in-group, differently. This can lead to a drinking in clientele, and eventually can shut down the business.

Comparative optimism is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others when performing a certain task. This arises in hobbyists because they usually enjoy their hobbies, associating good experiences when performing these hobbies. This means that the more they perform this hobby, the stronger the comparative optimism becomes, and the more they want to keep performing the hobby. If individuals have a very unbalanced experience between their regular life, and their hobby, where their regular life is filled with negative experiences and their hobby only positive experiences, this can cause them to become obsessive with the hobby. They will spend as much time as they can doing this hobby, and can be seen with people who have gaming addictions or who obsessively collect something. The more they perform the hobby, the more negative their real life becomes, and the more they want to perform this hobby instead of facing their real life problems.

In conclusion the “hobbyist fan identity” is very different to the two other fan identities I have already discusses. Hobbyists “imagined community” has a very different effect on behaviour due to their different views on in-groups and out-groups. Their in and out groups are determined differently and have different meanings. Their in-groups members are treated differently based on seniority, unlike the previous two fan identity groups. The comparative optimism associated with their hobby’s can lead to obsessive behaviour which could have drastic effects on their lives.

References:

  1. A model of serious leisure identification: the case of football fandom
  2. Self-Awerness and Leader Identity
  3. Serious Leisure
  4. Today’s Edisons or weekend hobbyists: technical merit and success of inventions by independent inventors
  5. Computer Hobbyists and the Gaming Industry in Finland

 

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