What is Fandom???

What exactly is fandom?  Is it the same as being a fan?  Is DuranDuranMusic the fandom?  Is it the fan community?  I bring this up because Rhonda and I are often talking about fandom.  Yet, I don’t think that everyone defines it the same way we do after researching it for over a year.  Thus, I thought it would be helpful to talk about the terms fan, fan community, and fandom.  Of course, we have gone into a great more detail in the book but thought that for discussion purposes, it would be good if we shared what definitions we were using.

A fan is someone who is an admirer or enthusiast of something or someone.  For example, I am a fan of the Chicago White Sox.  I am enthusiastic about that particular sports team.  Does that mean that I participate in the White Sox fandom?  Not necessarily.  Fandom begins with being a fan, or having interest for something.  For this example, it is about having an interest in the White Sox.  Fandom, however, goes beyond interest.  It is more passionate than simple interest.  It is about intensity of feeling.  This intense feeling, then, causes the person to participate in the fandom.  Usually, the first step in participating in fandom is about the fan community.  It is about reaching out to other people to discuss the common interest.  In Duranland, this fan community is located both online and in person.  The online community is obviously places like message boards, social networking sites, blogs like this one and more where discussions about Duran take place.  The in-person community is found when Duranies get together in person, which can be everything from local get togethers to shows to conventions.  Of course, a commonly asked question might be:  “I don’t communicate with other Duranies on boards, facebook or here.  How can I be part of a community?”  The answer there is simple.  If you are reading this blog or checking out what other Duranies are saying even if you don’t personally respond, you are still part of the community.  Basically, if you pay attention, you are part of it.  Just like in real life, there are different levels of participation within any community.  Fandom, however, does not stop at the fan community.  The fan community is just one part.

Fandom is also about fan activities.  In Duranland, these activities are generally when the fan community comes together in person.  The big ones are shows, meetups and conventions.  Thus, fandom is no longer just about talking about one’s interest but is also taking time out of one’s life to do something related, something focused on that interest.  Of course, there are other activities that people do outside of community participation.  Those activities could include making fan art or writing fan fic.  In Duranland, it might be making new mixes of their songs.  Of course, frequently, these activities are often shared and discussed in the community.  Non-creative activities could include collecting objects relating to the interest.  For example, in our case, it could be collecting the music (cds, vinyls, singles, etc.), collecting DVDs, collecting merchandise like t-shirts or other products.  For some, that collection could also be knowledge about the interest. 

Thus, in summary, you start out being a fan.  Then, you move into fandom when you communicate about the interest and when you participate in some or all of the related activities.  Based on this information, is DDM the fandom?  Absolutely not.  It can’t be.  It may be the place that some people go to in order to participate in the fan community.  It may also be the place where people go in order to buy tickets for activities in the fandom, but the fandom and the fan community is much larger than this one site, even if the site is the “official” fan site.  Of course, another question that could be asked is whether or not, it could be more representative of the fandom as a whole, but that’s not the focus of this blog entry.  To bring this entry back to the beginning, I am a fan of the White Sox.  Do I participate in the fandom?  Let’s examine using the definition I presented here.  Do I participate in the fan community by discussing the team?  I don’t go to any online locations to talk about the team but I do talk about the team with my family.  Thus, I could stretch and say that I do participate in the fan community.  What about the fan activities?  Well, I try to get to a game at least once a year.  Again, I could stretch it to say that I do.  Obviously, if I were to apply the definition to Duran Duran, it would be a much easier answer. 

The other day when I asked people if they would ever leave the fandom, I wasn’t really asking if they would stop being a fan but would they stop participating in the fan community and stop doing Duran related activities.  I hope that I did a better job explaining what I meant now than I did then to ease any or all confusion!


2 thoughts on “What is Fandom???”

  1. In response to what is the difference between a fan and fandom, I offer the following definitions:

    Fan: [from ubrandictionary.com] A person who has interest or likes something, or somebody. Can refer to many things including sports, movie stars, food/drink and so on. Basically anybody that likes something.

    Fandom: [from ubrandictionary.com]The microcosm made up of people who are fans {of some entity,activity,genre,music etc.}…{they}have their own clubs, conventions and amateur magazines (fanzines. Fandoms often consist of message boards, livejournal communities, and people.

    In sum, my take on this that the individual is the fan, whereas the connection of fans to each other is fandom.

    I am a fan of Duran Duran. But I was not a member of the fandom until last year, through this blog, fan communities, and social networking sites.

    Glad I have taken my fan status to the higher level of fandom of DD!

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