Synthesis Of Fandom

So far I have looked at four different fandoms in my blogs. Sports, cosplayers, hobbyists, and celebrity fandoms. In these fandoms I have looked at unique aspects and studies impacting each one. Each one, however, relies on theories pertaining to social identity theory and imagined community. In this blog I am going to go over quickly once more the unique aspects of each fandom, then bring them all together to talk about fandom in general and how it affects individuals.

Recapping the sports fandom, it is defined by it’s various “in-groups”, which compete between each other, with almost no out-group deterioration. A sports fan’s identity is very closely linked with their team’s, with their behaviour patterns varying the most out of any of the other perceived fandoms based on their teams performance. It had a very close nit imagined community, and one of the largest imagined communities of this kind. I looked at studies which showed how sports could bring out a wide range of emotional outbursts which were linked directly to the perceived social identity of the individual. As well as health benefits from the imagined community.

Cosplay fandom was a interesting fandom, mainly for it’s unique sense of imagined community, and lack of different “in-groups”. Cosplayers “fan identity” is still firmly grounded in social identity theory and imagined community, but for different reasons and with different results. Cosplayers are less likely to have major emotional outbursts than the other communities as a result of their fandoms, but still benefit from the effects of the imagined community. The loss of one’s own “self-identity” is more pertain to the imagined community, and is a factor in the benefits that I talked about in their imagined community. Their sense of self identity is tied to the type of cosplay they are performing, but on average they all experience a rise in self-esteem while cosplaying.

The hobbyist fandom had a different effect on behaviour than the other fandoms, the “imagined community” had 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 had different meanings. Their in-groups members were treated differently based on their perceived ranks, unlike any of the other communities. It was one of the only fandoms to use “comparative optimism”, and “out-group deterioration” theories. The comparative optimism associated with their hobby’s can lead to obsessive behaviour which could have drastic effects on their lives.

The celebrity fandom was probably one of the most interesting fandoms that I looked at, based solely on the fact that it was one of the fandoms most associated with negative behaviour and psychological mental disorders. The fan identity seems to be heavily based in ‘celebrity worship’ and behavioural problems of para-social relationship. Making it so individuals create relationships that aren’t really there, making them invest in meaningless relationships, an taking away their ability to create relationships outdid of this ‘imagined relationship, which replaces the “imagined community”.

So, the pillar of these fandoms are clearly the social identity theory, and the sub theories that come along with it, like the imagined community, their imagined in and out-groups, and their imagined relationships, because either one or more of them all rely on one of these theories being central to their fandoms. Social identity theory is something that I have discussed time and time again in this blog, but I believe it is important to sum it up for the purposes of this synopsis. Social identification is a perception of inclusion with a group of persons and that social identification stems from the categorization of individuals, the distinctiveness and prestige of the group, the salience of outgroups, and the factors that traditionally are associated with group formation. We have seen all these things in the respective fandoms, which some being stronger in one area than others. For example, hobbyist had a larger salience in distinctiveness and prestige in their in-groups, while also having a very specific categorization of individuals based on these statuses in the in and out groups. Social identification leads to other activities that are in line with the imagined community identity, like support for institutions that embody the identity (like sports teams or cosplayer identities), stereotypical perceptions of self and others (like out-group derogation in hobbyists or celebrity worship) and outcomes that traditionally are associated with group formation (like the heath benefits of sports fandom, or the benefits of cosplaying to the self-esteem). It reinforces the fact of group identification can be used by imagined communities.

In conclusion, it can be argued that fandoms can be explained using the social identity theory as I have been doing. This is because social identity theory is able to explain key elements of each unique aspect of these fandoms. It does this by using sub theories like “imagined communities” and “in-groups” to help encompass all aspects of fandom. I believe that it is a great theory that can be applied to just about any fandom.


  1. Social identity of Fans and its Interaction with Fandom
  2. Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction
  3. Attribution in Social and Parasocial Relationships
  4. Personality and coping: A context for examining celebrity worship and mental health
  5. A model of serious leisure identification: the case of football fandom
  6. Self-Awerness and Leader Identity
  7. Serious Leisure
  8. Today’s Edisons or weekend hobbyists: technical merit and success of inventions by independent inventors
  9. Computer Hobbyists and the Gaming Industry in Finland
  10. Stranger than fiction: Fan identity in cosplay
  11. Expressions of Fandom: Findings from a Psychological Survey of Cosplay and
  12. Costume Wear
  13. Identity theory and social identity theory
  14. The sports fan identity
  17. fan/
  18. sport_fans

11 thoughts on “Synthesis Of Fandom

  1. very interesting approach to the fandom topic. I 100% agree that fandom can provide a social identity., and that even past fandom, and into general pop culture within movies, TV, and ect… where pop culture and fandom is a way to escape, and have a sense of belonging. But I didn’t give much thought to sports and even hobbyists, like crafters. but it does make sense that with mass consumption, it can be difficult to avoid and increase social interaction. But with I think there is an element of fantasy goes into fandom and why it is so impactful with sports, celebrities, and cosplay. which is why it leads to social identity, think can be seen with fantasy sports, and cosplay.


    Follett, B. (2015). A Phenomenological Inquiry of Sports Fandom and Its Relation to Psychological Identity Among Men (Doctoral dissertation, THE CHICAGO SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY).

    Wiatrowski, M. (2011). The Dynamics of Fandom: Exploring Fan Communities in Online Spaces. In The Fourth Annual Folklore and Ethnomusicology Joint University Conference.


    • Thanks for the reply, I don’t believe that I did talk about fantasy sports and that would be a very good topic to explore. The fantasy sports fandom is probable;y very close to the sports fandom in regards to social identity and such since both fandoms most likely highly overlap. I din’t research the fantasy link into to great of a detail with sports and I believe that it is a interesting thought. I did talk about cosplay fandoms though in my second blog on this topic though, I will add it’s link below.


  2. It is definitely that sense of belonging that brings people together for these sorts of fandoms. I found that males and females sense of belonging can actually be affected in different ways by different situations. For example, a negative interaction with a spouse lead to a more negative sense of belonging in women than in men. This could be an indication that maybe women would be more inclined to join their spouses fandom to maintain that positive sense of belonging.

    Hagerty, B., Williams, R., Coyne, J., and Early, M. (1996). Sense of belonging and indicators of social and psychological functioning. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 10(4), 235-244


    • This is a very intersting thought, I did a bit of digging and found that in many cases, men are more likely to be parts of fandoms. This is especially true with sports fandoms, I found an article that talks about how men were more likely to participate in sport activities during sports games than women, and that they had a higher level of percieved enjoyment from performing activities associated with their sports fandom. This opens up different avenues of research about what parts of social identity of different fandoms appeal to men or women more than the other.


  3. One of the most important aspects of fandoms that is often overlooked would be the large sense of community and belonging that it offers to those who often don’t seem to fit in elsewhere. It can create a sense of security and friendship when bonding over common interests. In this sense, the type of fandom matters not. A couple of the other blogs this week have spoken about social isolation, and the damage it causes, and I think fandoms fit perfectly into these topics. Many individuals have trouble making friends and fitting in, which can lead to isolation and loneliness. Loneliness has also be proven to be detrimental, as it weakens one’s immune system, can shorten a lifespan, and also spark certain mental disorders, such a heavy depression. Fandoms are an amazing way of combating this, and more people should find groups that share their interests.

    Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, Jonathan Gray , Cornel Sandvoss and C. Lee Lee Harrington, 2007


  4. You make some interesting arguments on what drives fandom and imagined communities. The very idea of social identity is driven by the way we see ourselves amongst others. It is argued that social identification stems from the categorization of individuals, the distinctiveness and prestige of the group, the salience of outgroups, and the factors that traditionally are associated with group formation; this leads to activities that are congruent with the identity, support for institutions that embody the identity, stereotypical perceptions of self and others, and outcomes that traditionally are associated with group formation, and it reinforces the antecedents of identification (1). This perspective can applied to organizational socialization, role conflict, and intergroup relations. If we can better understand how we as social beings interact as a group, hopefully we can decipher how even more complex dynamics work, like social media.

    (1) Ashforth, B. E., & Mael, F. (1989). Social Identity Theory and the Organization. The Academy of Management Review, 14(1), 20. doi:10.2307/258189


  5. Fandom is a social objective which makes this content inspiring for us. Your talk about the the play style of the team reminds me of the public opinion ideas, which is like that the comments of a public, or political opinion is likely to be of the similar opinion while the seemly rational argument will be ignored. This idea is from one of our student’s blog. My argument on that idea was that what might influence the comment sector a lot is the attitude of the original poster. The more provocative writer are merely likely to receive less rational comments. Applying the idea to your content, the team style may do have an impact on their fans’ behaviour pattern.
    Steinfeld, N., Samuel-Azran, T., & Lev-On, A. (2016). User comments and public opinion: Findings from an eye-tracking experiment. Computers in Human Behavior, 61, 63-72. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.004


  6. Great post! Social Identity theory is very fascinating. This theory ties so well with so many aspects of every day life. I think about how we use the internet to have and form an identity by being apart of a group and having recognition by others and being accepted. I appreciate that you used various fandom’s to explain your position. I found an interesting article that showed how people are attracted to organizations to get a social identity. Your first post about sports is a great example of this. The authors of the study discuss how we use our social identity implication as it relates to organizations to make the decision because it impacts how we are perceived.



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