Beyond Subcultural Community: A Sociological Analysis of Japanese Animation Fans and Fandoms

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The study of media fandom has emphasized the subcultural nature of fans’ practices and relationships. The work of Henry Jenkins (2013) was especially influential in this regard. Proposing that media fans constituted both a subculture and an interpretive community, Jenkins reified fandoms as bounded, subcultural groups composed of nomadic readers. The current dissertation constitutes a powerful critique of this traditional approach to the study of media fandom. Through ethnographic research on Japanese animation fans in Mexico and Canada and a theoretical framework informed by the oeuvre of Pierre Bourdieu, I propose that Japanese animation fandom is not a bounded group, but rather a field of consumption, that is, a space of consumer positions articulated around particular tastes relating to Japanese animation and its associated texts and characters. While some of these positions correspond to local and trans-local communities, individual media consumers occupy others. From this perspective, in a similar manner to Bourdieu’s “field of cultural production”, Japanese animation fandom is much more complex and fluid than implied by the fandom-as-community paradigm. To approach this complexity, this dissertation explores knowledges, practices, localities and objects that are appropriated and deployed by Japanese animation fans in order to be closer to their favorite narratives and characters. In doing so, fans’ tastes and consumption practices become the core of a new approach to the study of media fandom.
Subcultures, Consumption, Boundary Work, Fans, Fandom, Japanese Animation, Popular Culture, Cultural Studies
Robles Bastida, N. (2019). Beyond subcultural community: A sociological analysis of Japanese animation fans and fandoms (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from