Thursday, 3 September 2009

Fanstudies and 40K/GW Related: Thoughts on Fandom

While I've been waiting for my various Chaos Space Marine bits and bobs to come in this week, I've been reading more fan studies stuff and thinking about what I mean by W40K fandom. Looking through the various books there is no clear definition of what is meant by 'fan' or 'fandom', and where definitions are proposed there is either no agreement about what they mean or they are so broad as to be able to encompass anything. The best we seem to get is either 'well, we all know what it means' or, as Matt Hills does in his book, Fan Cultures, a rejection at any attempt at definition.
That said, recurring themes, though, in the attempts at definition are:
1. fandom is based on consumption (i.e. buying objects associated with the interest)
2. fandom is about interacting with other fans (online, through blogs, face to face, at conventions etc etc.)
3. fandom is about creativity (writing fan stories and films, drawing etc)
4. fandom is about emotions (having an emotional engagement with your interest)
5. fandom is a form of community (a collection of individuals linked by their shared love of X)
6. fandom is about resistance (fans creating their own culture in opposition to mass culture)
7. fandom is intense (watching shows over and over again, reading and re-reading books)

So, I thought I would turn the question on its head or at least turn it around. Rather than trying to impose a top-down definition of what W40K/GW related fandom is, I thought it would be better (and certainly more interesting) to ask players themselves what it means to them to be a fan. In other words, and I hope this doesn't sound a silly question (because it isn't) - what makes a 40K/GW related fan? Are there particular levels or degrees of fans?


  1. Surely fandom equates to obsession, whether to a milder or greater degree?

    I'm pretty obsessed with the hobby personally - there isn't a day that goes by in which I don't think about it.

  2. yeah, definitely. I think that might come under emotional engagement. Often we know on a rational level how expensive it is, how long we spend, how they are just bits of plastic, but on an emotional level we are hooked lol