The play-element of football fandom: reframing the fluidity of fan identity projects within the post-fandom era

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Alton, Dave
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University College Cork
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This ethnographic study makes a number of original contributions to football fandom and fan identity projects by exploring the construction and development of fan identity, within the dynamic environment of what is conceptualized as post-fandom. The performative-dimension of football fandom allows fans to satisfy a number of identity goals and desires. Thus, it was found that fans construct and develop their individual and collective fan identity through engagement in a variety of play forms. Secondly, the study contributes to the understanding of the fluidity of post-fandom. The study proposes a novel fan typology which incorporates a fluid relationship between liminal and liminoid forms of fandom. Liminoid fandom manifests as pure play, free from obligation. Conversely, liminal performance mimics those of religious rites and are considered dutiful acts. The study also reconceptualises the make-up of fan communities as they emerge within post-fandom literature. The advancement of fan community understanding is grounded in the application of communitas as a mode of playful social performance. Finally, it was found that the shift in football towards being a market-controlled entity has resulted in the increased commodification of fan culture, resulting in significant tensions within the playground. The prominence of capitalistic ideology within contemporary society has consequences at the existential level for football fans. The imposition of capitalistic ideology within fan culture impacts upon fan playground dynamics, with negative implications for the identity projects of both liminal and liminoid fans.
Marketing , Football , Fandom , Football fandom , Consumer culture , Play
Alton, D. 2018. The play-element of football fandom: reframing the fluidity of fan identity projects within the post-fandom era. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.