Meeting in a dark alley!” Understanding fan/producer relationships through Bourdieu's field theory in online Neighbours fandom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Much work on media fans has considered the relationships between fans and those responsible for creating the object of fandom, particularly the interactions between fans and producers of television shows (Jenkins 1992; Lancaster 2001; Tulloch 1995). These have been particularly widely considered in online studies (Dobson 2003; Nussbaum 2002; Kuppers 2004; Scodari and Felder 2000), although these have usually been concerned with cult media fandom and have tended to neglect genres such as drama or soap opera. In this paper I wish to consider online responses to a writer/producer of the Australian soap opera Neighbours after this figure appeared to openly denigrate and dismiss fans' long-term commitment to the show. Drawing on the theories of sociologists Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens, I suggest that fan studies might be able to move away from theorisations of fan/producer relationships which rely on notions of 'poaching' towards a conceptualisation which accounts for fans' attachments to their chosen fan objects. I further suggest that the often fierce clashes between fans and creators of fan objects can be better understood through application of Bourdieu's field theory (1993). Fields are always characterised by struggles over legitimacy and bids for dominance (Williamson 2005:107) and, drawing on this work, I argue that fan/producer relationships can be better understood if we consider them as agents who occupy positions within a 'field of fandom' (a sub-field of the 'broadcasting field' (Born 2003)) and engage in often fierce clashes over their positions within the field and the 'appropriate' behaviours associated with them (Bourdieu 1993:95; Shefrin 2004:270).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008
Event MECCSA Postgraduate Conference - University of Sussex
Duration: 1 Jul 20081 Jul 2008


Conference MECCSA Postgraduate Conference


  • soap opera
  • audiences
  • field theory


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