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