To Be Continued…: Fan Fiction and the Constructing of Identity

To Be Continued…: Fan Fiction and the Constructing of Identity

Patrik Wikström (Jönköping International Business School, Sweden) and Christina Olin-Scheller (Karlstad University, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-209-3.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter contributes to the existing body of knowledge on fan fiction by reporting the findings from a quantitative and qualitative study on fan fiction in a Swedish context. The authors contextualize the fan fiction phenomenon as a part of a larger transformation of the media sphere and the society in general where media consumers’ role as collaborative cultural producers grows ever stronger. They explore what kind of stories inspire the writers and conclude that as in many other parts of the entertainment industry, fan fiction is dominated by a small number of international media brands. The authors show how fan fiction can play an important role in the development of adolescents’ literacies and identities and how their pastime works as a vehicle for personal growth.
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Background

After the industrial revolution and before the advent of digital communication technologies, the capability to create and disseminate information throughout society was concentrated to a limited number of fairly powerful organizations. These organizations were strong enough to be able to acquire the scarce resources and the expensive equipment required in order to operate a newspaper, a television station, or a book publisher to be reckoned with. Common people were more less shut out from cultural production and were sentenced to the role of the consumer – passively watching, reading and listening to the works of others.

However, during the second half of the last century, technological development contributed to a radical increase in the accessibility of these scarce communication resources. More and more people were able to create their own stories and share their creations with the world. New practices for using media content emerged and a culture sometimes referred to as a ‘remix culture’ (e.g. Lessig, 2008) or a ‘participatory culture’ (e.g. Jenkins, 2006a) became part of the normal way of life in the digital world. Today, the world’s six most visited web sites (excluding search related sites) can be categorized as peer media i.e. media services which are (1) interactive; (2) the most valuable content is generated by amateurs rather than by professionals; (3) and the emphasis is placed on contact and community elements rather than on information per se (Küng, 2008: 86; http://www.alexa.com).

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