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Title: Performing fandom, performing community : a case study of 'The Sopranos' and its online fandom
Author: Monaco, Jeannette
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 3415
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis examines how the terms fandom, community, and 'quality' are negotiated within the online social networks that are devoted to the US HBO series 'The Sopranos'. By extending perspectives that challenge theoretical models of audience resistance, much of the analysis considers fan discussion forum activity as a playful, performative strategy which enables fans reflexively to assert their individual or group identity. Fan performances often reflect a desire to strive for utopian versions of community while also making subcultural assertions of difference and distinction within Sopranos-related groups. I argue that the performance of distinction and the reproduction of taste hierarchies within groups interacts with The Sopranos' own cultural performance as 'quality' TV. As such, the analysis focuses on how fan activity is implicated with, rather than resisting, economic, industrial capitalist interests. In considering claims that the Internet has mainstreamed fandom, I suggest that the cultural work that The Sopranos' fans perform, indicates a complex practice which challenges the separation of the terins c mainstream' and 'subcultural'. The research utilises a range of virtual ethnographic and qualitative research strategies. The project locates fan-audiences and their constructed secondary texts throughout multiple Sopranos-related fall discussion forums. Modes of practice such as participant-observation, email correspondence, real-time chats and reflexivity are employed in order to shape the final gathering and textual analysis of empirical data. I argue that the deployment of an autoethnographic narrative accounts for the ways in which the scholar-fan's discursive locations inform subsequent analysis. I assert that this critical approach complicates assumptions about the researcher's rational, detached subjectivity, thus challenging ethnographic authority and textual transparency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available