Adolescent Fans

Practices, Discourses, Communities

by Pilar Lacasa (Author)
©2020 Textbook XVI, 256 Pages
Series: Mediated Youth, Volume 32


Owing to the proliferation of screens and networked culture, young fans have moved beyond being simply media consumers. Today they are content interpreters and creators—living in a remix culture, reconstructing transmedia narratives, and interacting with culture industries. Young fans’ relationship to technology has transformed their discourses, interpersonal relationships, and the way they participate in communities. This book delves into these issues, looking at social and cultural approaches to human development to study the identities and activities of fan communities among young people. The book explores communities related to Harry Potter, One Direction, Fortnite, Warhammer, TikTok, and television programs. Drawing on an ethnographic approach and big data analysis, Adolescent Fans demonstrates how digital technology has changed not only fan behavior, but also research practices used to understand what it means to be a young fan.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Illustrations
  • Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter One Introduction: Searching for Teenage Fans
  • Fans, Social Media, Platforms and Connectivity
  • Social Media
  • Platforms
  • Connectivity and Culture
  • Fan Activities
  • Practices
  • The Discourses
  • Communities
  • Methodology
  • Ethnography
  • “Big Data” Analysis
  • Structure of the Book
  • Chapter Two Teenage Fans around One Direction and Harry Styles
  • The Case Context: Methodology
  • Fan Practices and Their Environment
  • Practices and Everyday Life
  • An Ethical Perspective
  • Making Meanings
  • Affinity Spaces
  • Dialogue through Social Media
  • Fans, Dynamic Identities and Creative Processes
  • Admiration, Creation and Feeling towards the Idol
  • Identity
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Three Fans’ Cultural Tools in the Harry Potter Universe
  • A Case Study: Methodology
  • The Harry Potter Universe
  • A Transmedia Phenomenon Designed by J. K. Rowling
  • The Construction of Theories in the Harry Potter Universe
  • The Formation of Fan Identity and Practices
  • Identity and Identification with the Characters
  • Fannish Practices and Habits
  • Objects in the Teenage Harry Potter Universe
  • Objects as Merchandising
  • Material Objects and Cosplay
  • The Power of Objects
  • The Power of Imagination
  • Visual Imagination and Culture as a Source of Aesthetic Inspiration
  • Imagination and Ethics among the Fans
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Four Fandom, Micro-Celebrities and New Media
  • Introduction
  • A Convergent Production
  • Celebrities, Influencers and Micro-Celebrities
  • Methodological Approach: Drawing on Data
  • Conversations on Twitter: Big Data
  • Conversing with the Fans during the Interviews
  • Programme Context, Format and Content
  • Idols, Micro-Celebrities and Contestants
  • Reality
  • Representation
  • Ideology
  • Fan Practices: Sharing Values
  • Personal Values
  • Co-Existence and Social Relations
  • Community Values
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Five Reinventing Images and Fan Discourses
  • An Ethnographic Approach
  • The Context
  • Nadia’s Digital Practices
  • Awareness of Evolution as a Fan
  • Phase One. Learning to Be a Fan Imitating Other People
  • Frozen and One Direction
  • Musical.ly
  • Phase Two: Books and Multimedia Shared through Internet
  • Being a Harry Potter Fan through Shared Images
  • Nadia Shares Images and Ideas with the Fan Community
  • Phase Three: Awareness and Control of Activity on Internet
  • Producing and Storing with Instagram
  • Storing and Curating Productions: Pinterest
  • Produce Using TikTok: Fan of a Platform?
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Six Fans in a Multiplatform Society
  • Case Study: Generation Z on the Skam Series
  • The Context: The Skam Series
  • Methodological Approach: Big Data
  • TV Fans and Series in a Multiplatform Society
  • Young Peoples’ Practices and Platforms
  • International Context
  • Participate Using Multimodal Texts
  • New Forms of Narrating and Social Values
  • Digital Narratives and Text Reading
  • Reality and Fiction in the Fan Universe
  • Transmedia Environments, Values and Public Presence
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Seven Adolescent Boys as Fans in the Warhammer Community
  • The Warhammer Universe
  • A Fantastical World
  • Fan Practices around the Game
  • Methodology: A Case Study
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Personal Creations, Shared between Fans
  • Being a Warhammer Fan
  • A Personal and Shared World
  • Interpersonal Experience of the Game in Physical and Social Contexts
  • The Shop as a Physical Setting
  • Fan Practices in Social Environments
  • Warhammer as a Cultural Community
  • The Role of the Brand in a Transmedia Environmental
  • The Rules of the Game Proposed by the Brand
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Eight Fans’ Productive Communities around Fortnite
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • The Game as a Facilitating Text in the Fan Community
  • Big Data and Small Data around Fortnite
  • Innovative Contexts and Fan Practices
  • The Game System within a Multiplatform Context
  • Communities of Gamers and Innovation
  • Game Settings and Monetisation Processes
  • The Economic Model and Its Impact on the Game
  • The Micro-Transactions and Game Elements
  • Productivity, Participation and Creation
  • Productive and Instrumental Interpretations
  • Expressive Productivity and Creation
  • Conclusions
  • Chapter Nine Conclusions: Adolescent Fans and Digital Lives
  • Youth Fandom and Digital Platforms
  • Fans and Figured Worlds
  • Fandom, Mediation and Building Up Meaning
  • Learning to Be a Fan in Practice Communities
  • Mobility and Restructuring Actions
  • At Last!!
  • References
  • Index
  • Series index


I approached fan communities in the company of young people, who let me explore their practices, probe into them and often become a fan of their idols myself, as occurred in the case of Harry Potter. My great thanks to Susana, Irene, Raúl, Daniela, Hugo, their families and their friends who intelligently and passionately follow many idols they consider themselves fans of. Thank you for everything you have taught me.

Thanks to those I consider as my teachers, who have offered me the opportunity to personally discuss many of their ideas, which are in this book. Thanks to Henry Jenkins, who allowed me to attend his classes at the University of Southern California and previously at MIT (Boston). He has been and still is my benchmark reference, for his innovative thinking and closeness. Thanks to Mark Duffet, who showed me different paths to follow from his book Understanding fandom (2013) and helped me to focus on music fan communities. Thanks to the Fandom Studies Network, which always expanded my outlook and encouraged new questions through its annual conferences, and in particular Bertha Chin, Lucy Bennett and Rebecca Williams. Thanks to the researchers Heather Horst and Sara Pink, in the Digital Ethnography Research Centre of the RMIT University (Melbourne), who expanded my outlook and ethnography. Thanks to Martin Emmer, with whom I began to understand the opportunities and drawbacks of analysis supported by ←xv | xvi→Big Data for approaching fan communities, during my stay in the Institute for Media and Communication Studies of the Freie Universität in Berlin.

Huge thanks to Sharon Mazzarella, editor of the series Mediated Youth in Peter Lang. Her comments and help right from the beginning of the preparations for this book have always been enriching and have helped to improve its quality in form and content.

My great thanks to Krystyna Sleziak, translator and interpreter, who pulled out all the stops to turn this book into excellent English. Thanks to people who are very close to me who have read these pages or discussed them. Thanks to Laura Méndez and Javier Domínguez, sand also to the “Imágenes Palabras e Ideas” group, which has been my permanent source of intellectual and affectionate support. My thanks to both the senior researchers Julián de la Fuente, Rut Martínez, Sara Cortés, María Ruth García Pernía, Julia Sabina Gutiérrez and Sara Infante and the junior researchers Alba García, Iris Barrajón, Acaceli Parrés, Remedios Torrijos, Seila Castro, Elba Sánchez and Raquel Echeandia.

Samantha Cordoba and Juliana Lisseth supported the big data analysis from Séntisis Analytics. Enrique Arnaiz Ramos helped me to get into the Warhammer communities and deal with author’s rights for the publication of the images and interviews. My thanks to the Acquisitions Editor at Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, who always made my work easy.

My thanks to the public institutions that have directly and indirectly financed the research required for this book. Thanks to the University of Alcalá, my university, which has facilitated everything on a personal, institutional and administrative level; to the Board of the Communities of Castilla La Mancha, which financed a project after the long recession, allowing us to advance; and to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, which has financed a project to analyse fan communities.

Many thanks too, to my family.

←0 |


Introduction: Searching for Teenage Fans

The purpose of this book is to analyse how the Internet and mobile devices, the digital world and its different realities are present in young fan communities and how they have helped to reconstruct them. Their activities and values are measured by material objects, in this case digital objects, which emanate from someone or something they admire and with whom they form an emotional tie. Fan practices, discourses and communities may be explored from different theoretical models that can, to some extent, be considered prototypical. They tally in that being a fan implies a certain way of being, feeling, thinking and acting, present in any community, and which is constructed around an idol, particularly those linked to media. From a historical viewpoint, three models are essentially the starting point of this book, but none of them are specifically fixed on childhood or adolescence.

The first is linked to the seminal works of Henry Jenkins (2013), Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (2nd edition). Fans are the interpreters and creators of texts, which are dependent upon certain social conditions that guide their reception, creation and distribution. Fans offer meanings which cross over with forms of cultural participation and collective activities, without relinquishing their personal activity from interpretation. Jenkins’ contributions relating to fan phenomena are better understood when closer scrutiny is made of the authors who inspired him, such as Fiske (Fiske, 1989; Jenkins, 2011), Stuart ←1 | 2→Hall (Hall, 1997; Jenkins et al., 2002) or Certeau, (Certeau, 1984; Jenkins, 2013) in addition to his own experiences as a fan (Jenkins, 2007).

If in this first model Jenkins focuses on cultural fan practices associated with texts, a second model is that presented by Duffett (2013), in his book Understanding Fandom: An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Culture, which insists on the emotional dimension and the tie with the idol. It represents a different line of thought in relation to fandom, explaining that “its analysis can help to explain why individuals are increasingly constructing their personal identities around the media products that they enjoy” (p. 2). A conversation between Jenkins and Duffet (Jenkins, 2014, March 3) highlights the specificity of Duffet’s contribution and its differences from Jenkins’ own approach. For example, Duffet has been more concerned about showing why some fans are negatively portrayed in certain situations. He is especially interested in musical phenomena (Duffett, 2014), and perhaps this is one of the reasons why he focuses on the emotional process and immersion in fan practices associated with fame. He also points out that the digital world is clearly a new context containing cultural industries. He understands fandom as something which represents the social relations of an industrialised society, associated with media presence. The resulting interaction attempts to eliminate barriers between the public and the private because they are increasingly blurred in online society. Emotion, however, remains steadfastly individual even though it may also be collective.

Relationships between the personal and social and individual and collective certainly involve the fan world (Sandvoss et al., 2017) and from here a third model may be defined. The book Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World (Gray et al., 2017) may be representative of others and to some extent, serve as an example. It shows how productions emerge and acquire meanings in collective groups, because being a fan involves participating in a community, but these productions remain personalised. The challenge is to preserve fan voices and experiences, contextualising them within the framework of the community to which they belong. Digital technology extends fan power at both individual and community level through the tools generated by their contributions and the way in which they are shared. Fan practices have also contributed to the monetisation of digital contents in the industry centre which has to provide answers to an ever-changing world (Bennett & Booth, 2016; Blue & Kearney, 2018; Kearney, 2011).

These three models serve as a starting point which traverses the whole book to show how the Internet affects fan practices, with young people living in a multiplatform society. It will show how interaction with digital technology is transforming social relations, the communities which are constructed around it and even the processes underlying the construction of values among young fans. Social ←2 | 3→media through which fans exchange messages helps to construct meanings within the framework of a popular culture, that is now supported by platform connectivity.

This chapter suggests the general framework which supports analysis of different cases analysed in later chapters. The framework entails different, continuously overlapping points. First, it reflects on the context generated by social networks on a multiplatform society which guides fan activities. Second, it details these activities which are driven towards certain goals, which are considered cultural practices, and from which multimodal discourses are generated towards the exchange of meaning in the community. Third, a set of methodological reflections are included which point towards the different routes of approach towards the fan universe, between participative ethnography and big data analysis. Both reflect the need to adopt the appropriate outlooks and techniques of analysis for the questions guiding research. Finally the book’s structure, together with a brief description of its chapters, is presented.

Fans, Social Media, Platforms and Connectivity

The contexts involving young fans, whose activities are now inseparable from the Internet, are linked to social media, platforms and a culture of connectivity. The appearance of social networks mediated by the Internet has introduced types of relationship which were unthinkable a few years ago. There is now an exchange of opinions, values, proposals and pieces of information which are of individual and collective interest, and all helping to transform communication and relationships. These networks are based on digital platforms which have helped to create forms of culture and economic models associated with connectivity. The concepts presented below are the key themes running throughout the book.

Social Media


XVI, 256
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Spanish; Castilian
Publication date
2020 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XVI, 256 pp., 9 b/w ill., 9 tables.

Biographical notes

Pilar Lacasa (Author)

Pilar Lacasa is Emeritus Professor of Communication at the University of Alcalá, Spain. She has been a visiting Research Professor in the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT (USA), at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT (Melbourne, Australia), and at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies at the Freie Universität, Berlin. She is the author of Learning and Virtual Worlds (2013).


Title: Adolescent Fans
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
274 pages