Fan Culture and Social Identities

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Sociology
Pages 10 (2510 words)
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In a country where 98% have at least one television, 70% have more than one television, 70% have cable, and 51% of households with children have a computer (Paik 1994, p.519), the potency of media in general and television in particular cannot be overemphasized…

Introduction

An instrument this pervasive, this appealing and this convenient is certain to influence the belief systems of society. It seems that question is no longer whether it does rather how much and in what manner.
In current times we have seen how television has morphed from simply a provider of entertainment and a means of recreation, into a god-creator of a proxy-community - where people are drawn to the images and to the text and use them to form social identities and forge cultural distinctions.
The notion of a "fan culture" is a complex one. There are a whole plethora of reasons why an individual finds himself "hooked" to a particular television show. When these individuals come together, a whole community is created, a whole subculture is forged, and the fans cease to be peripheral observers and become active agents and manipulators of the text itself. From "borrowed material", or the material churned out by television producers, scriptwriters and directors, fans craft a patchwork quilt all their own - fusing their own individual experiences and perceptions and coming up with an entirely new animal resembling in parts, and far removed from, in other parts, the original text.
This is the theory posited by Jenkins in the book "Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture" (1992) where he navigates through the media fan community and demonstrate how the cultural practices within it serve to rework the text and create its own social inst ...
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