Transmedia Fan Communities and Everyday Onlife Practice

My role: principal researcher (2016-)

Status: Dissemination of results. This project represents my doctoral research.


PhD Diss. Abstract (draft – 13 April 2022):

Everyday Onlife Practice and Information Behaviour: A Study of Media Fans in a Postdigital Age

As individuals, how we access, use, share, interact with, and engage with information in our everyday lives is always in a process of evolution. Referred to collectively as information behaviours, these activities are influenced by social and cultural norms and the emergence of new technologies. The current project explores how information and communication technologies (ICTs) in everyday life influence the information behaviour of media fans. By studying self-identified fans of media storyworlds (e.g., Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, Mass Effect, etc), this research seeks to understand the “onlife fan”. Adopting a social constructionist paradigm, this project undertakes a Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) study of media fans. The methods consist of in-depth interviews with 17 participants and content analysis of two online Game of Thrones fan communities. This research contributes new theoretical and interdisciplinary understandings of media fandom that establish a bridge between the existing fields of information science and fan studies and builds upon the emerging interdisciplinary subfield of FanLIS. Results demonstrate that media fans are involved in a process of sustained engagement; over time and through media consumption and social participation, they encounter and make sense of information as part of the everyday experience of fandom. They also indicate that fans share and create new information para-actively and, at the same time, construct and perform identities. These behavioural patterns, or tactics, are fundamental to fan practices. The research incorporates these concepts into a model for the information behaviour of onlife fans. More broadly, this study presents an emergent theory for everyday onlife practice, based on the examples of fans, that incorporates the mediated experience of ICTs in modern daily life.  These findings are significant for the development of future research in information science, fan studies, and FanLIS that seeks to understand the critical ways in which practice and identification take shape in a postdigital age.


Below is the abstract of the research proposal  accepted by confirmation panel at Swinburne on 15 January 2018.  Over time, the concept of “transmedia” engagement has aligned itself to what I now refer to as everyday onlife practice, and that of transmedia fans to onlife fans.

Grounded in Convergence: Information Behaviours of Transmedia Fan Communities 

As individuals, how we access, use, share, interact and engage with information in our everyday lives are always in a process of evolution. Referred to collectively as information behaviours, these activities are influenced by social and cultural norms and the emergence of new technologies. The question posed by the current project is what role media convergence and “transmedia”, as social and technological phenomena, play in the information behaviour of media fans. By studying the fans and fan communities of specific transmedia storyworlds (e.g., Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, Mass Effect, etc), this project seeks to understand the “transmedia fan” as information user in contemporary postdigital society. Adopting a social constructionist paradigm, this project will undertake a Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) study of transmedia fans. The methods will consist of in-depth interviews with 15 to 20 participants and content analysis of three to six publicly accessible online fan communities. The goal of this research is to contribute new theoretical and interdisciplinary understandings of media fandom, and will establish a bridge between the existing fields of information studies, media studies and fan studies. These findings will be significant for the development of future research on the everyday life practice of fans, media consumers and information users.


Funding

  • January 2016-March 2017: Tuition fee scholarship, Charles Sturt University.
  • March 2017- Present: Tuition fee scholarship, Swinburne University of Technology.
  • May 2019-Present: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Doctoral Fellowship.

Project Pages

As my research progresses, side-projects have spun out of the dissertation work through various presentations and collaborations. These projects expand on the dissertation in various ways.

Publications and Presentations

What’s fun got to do with it? What fun-life contexts teach us about the bounds of context (Panel). With: Melissa G. Ocepek, Gary Burnett, and Yazdan Mansourian. Proceedings of ISIC: the information behaviour conference, Pretoria, South Africa, 28th September to 1st October, 2020. [Temporary link] [Link -Video Intro] [Link – Video lecture] [Slidedeck]

Postdigital Information Behaviour and GOT Fandom. At the Fan Studies Network Australasia Conference, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, December 11 – 13, 2019. [Link]

Ch-ch-changes: Lives Online, Then and Now. Nerd Nite Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia, October 22, 2019. [Link – NN Melbourne] Nerd Nite Edmonton. Edmonton, Canada, November 19, 2019. [Link – NN Edmonton] | [Link – YouTube, Oct 22]

When the World Ends: Study of #FakeWesteros Twitter Fan Community During the Final Season of Game of Thrones (Poster). Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology (pp. 654-655). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2019. [Link] [PDF] [PDF – poster] [Link – Companion site]

Everyday Life and Leisure Contexts: Transmedia Fandom and Postdigital Information Behavior (Guest Lecture). LIS 543: Human Information Interaction, University of Alberta, July 22, 2019. [Link]

Fandom, Food, and Folksonomies: The Methodological Realities of Studying Fun Life-Contexts (Panel). With: Melissa G. Ocepek, Julia Bullard, Jenna Hartel, Sarah Polkinghorne and Ludi Price. At the 81st Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Vancouver, Canada, November 10 – 14, 2018. [Link] [PDF]

The YouTube Formula: Information Work and Community-Building in a Visual Era (Panel). With: Leslie Thomson, Nadia Caidi, Kyong Yoon, Alice N. Kim and Niel Chah. At the 81st Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Vancouver, Canada, November 10 – 14, 2018. [Link] [PDF]

Re(a)d Wedding: A case study exploring the everyday information behaviours of the transmedia fan. In S. Erdelez & N.K. Agarwal (Eds.), Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology (pp. 93–101.) Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2017. [Link] [PDF]

Re(a)d Wedding: A Comparative Discourse Analysis of Fan Responses to Game of Thrones [Poster]. Digital Humanities 2017, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, August 8-11 2017. [Link] [PDF]

3 Replies to “Transmedia Fan Communities and Everyday Onlife Practice”

    1. This is convergence in the sense used by Henry Jenkins, meaning “a paradigm for thinking about the current moment of media change, one which is defined through the layering, diversification, and interconnectivity of media. Convergence contrasts with the Digital Revolution model which assumed old media would be displaced by new media. Aspects of this convergence model are shaping decisions of media producers, advertisers, technologists, consumers, and policy-makers, and thus convergence has many different aspects and consequences.” http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2011/08/defining_transmedia_further_re.html

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