Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

By Jonathan Gray; Cornel Sandvoss et al. | Go to book overview

10
On the Set of The Sopranos
“Inside” a Fan's Construction of Nearness

Nick Couldry


Introduction: The Paradox of Fandom Research

When people use up a great deal of time and energy in interpreting a specific text, their subsequent actions oriented to that text pose interesting problems for social scientific interpretation. While the early history of fandom research was dominated by deconstructing fans' subordination in an outdated taste hierarchy, one challenge for current research is to gain a clearer, more inclusive view of the underlying interpretative problem that fan practices pose.

>This is a problem in which unwittingly I have found myself entangled. My book The Place of Media Power: Pilgrims and Witnesses of the Media Age (Couldry 2000) was not intended as part of fandom research, and its emphasis was on questions of media, power, and space more generally. But it could not avoid the link, because one of its case studies involved making sense of what fans and others did when they visited the set of the UK soap Coronation Street in Manchester. However, the anger I felt at the frequent pathologizing of fans' perfectly legitimate interpretative practice was one reason I avoided all trace of individual psychology in my analysis. I was trying to avoid what I saw as a reduction of such practice to the “defects” of individual psyches, and so set off in the opposite direction to see how far one could go in understanding an (admittedly) highly specific fan practice—journeys to the location where a media text is produced—relying only on a sociology that had excised psychology.1 This was clearly too limited a solution to the interpretative problem of fandom, and in any case the emergence since of sensitive treatments of fan psychology that

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