Factions, Institutions, and
Constitutive Hegemonies of Fandom
Disharmony has long held a contradictory place in studies of fandom and cult television.1 While early works like Bacon-Smith's Enterprising Women (1992) stressed unity within fan communities, Jenkins's Textual Poachers acknowledged rifts among fans, producers, and even other fans, stressing the “passions that surround[ed] disputes” (1992: 130). However, Jenkins too deflected attention from conflict and dissent, emphasizing the consensual and positing that “disagreements occur within a shared frame of reference, a common sense of the series' generic placement and a tacit agreement about what questions are worth asking” (137). As Jenkins later explained, he “accented the positive” to distance fandom from perceptions of it as immature, deviant, and ultimately immaterial to academic study (Harrison 1996: 274). While tactically advantageous, this initial focus on consensus and unity underplayed the constitutive centrality of antagonism and power to television fandom.
Since then, Tulloch and Jenkins (1995) have shown that science fiction series attract heterogeneous fan groups with varying interests, diverse reading practices, and unequal positions of stature within the community. Baym (2000) and MacDonald (1998) have examined the internal hierarchical structures that frequently make fandom a site of exclusion. Externally, Gwenllian-Jones (2003) examines tensions between communities and institutions over unauthorized interactions with corporately owned intellectual properties. While these accounts begin to emphasize inequalities of power relative to fan culture, media studies would benefit from