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Politics for the Love of Fandom

Fan-Based Citizenship in a Digital World

Ashley Hinck

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Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Politikwissenschaft


Politics for the Love of Fandom examines what Ashley Hinck calls “fan-based citizenship”: civic action that blends with and arises from participation in fandom and commitment to a fan-object. Examining cases like Harry Potter fans fighting for fair trade, YouTube fans donating money to charity, and football fans volunteering to mentor local youth, Hinck argues that fan-based citizenship has created new civic practices wherein popular culture may play as large a role in generating social action as traditional political institutions such as the Democratic Party or the Catholic Church.

In an increasingly digital world, individuals can easily move among many institutions and groups. They can choose from more people and organizations than ever to inspire their civic actions—even the fandom for children's book series Harry Potter can become a foundation for involvement in political life and social activism. Hinck explores this new kind of engagement and its implications for politics and citizenships, through case studies that encompass fandoms for sports, YouTube channels, movies, and even toys. She considers the ways in which fan-based social engagement arises organically, from fan communities seeking to change their world as a group, as well as the methods creators use to leverage their fans to take social action.

The modern shift to networked, fluid communities, Hinck argues, opens up opportunities for public participation that occurs outside of political parties, houses of worship, and organizations for social action. Fan-based citizenship performances help us understand the future possibilities of public engagement, as fans and creators alike tie the ethical frameworks of fan-objects to desired social goal, such as volunteering for political candidates, mentoring at-risk youth, and promoting environmentally friendly policy. Politics for the Love of Fandom examines the communication at the center of these civic actions, exploring how fans, nonprofits, and media companies manage to connect internet-based fandom with public issues.

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Nerdfighteria, UNICEF, LEGO, GreenPeace, Nebraska Huskers, Force for Change, TeamMates, Nerdfighters, Andrew Slack, Project for Awesome, fan studies, rhetoric, Star Wars, Harry Potter Alliance, Hank Green, John Green, The VlogBrothers, Husker football