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We’ve got the touch: An exploration of the role of fandom in contemporary society

Meakins, Ryan (2014) We’ve got the touch: An exploration of the role of fandom in contemporary society. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Fandom [has] a fundamental and widespread social role in contemporary western society (Alexander and Harris 5).

Since its launch in 1984, the Transformers franchise, created by the toy manufacturers Hasbro Inc. and TOMY Takara, has become one of the biggest science fiction franchises, its audience size only exceeded by Star Wars (Shook and Swan 6). As a fan of the Transformers franchise from the age of six, I wanted to learn more about fandom and my fellow fans and to achieve a greater understanding of the interconnections and linkages within the Transformers fandom. Through this I hoped to discover the role of fandoms in contemporary society. To do this I decided to develop and produce a documentary film entitled, We’ve Got The Touch: The Fandom in Disguise.

There is a structure to the world of fans and fandoms. It is built from the connections that exist between the cultural texts and products of a franchise, the individual fans and their behaviours and the various social networks, locations and events that those fans inhabit. The genesis and development of these connections and the effect they have on individuals, their relationships with others and with society at large is a fascinating and worthy field of study.

In the accompanying film We’ve Got The Touch: The Fandom in Disguise, and in this dissertation, I will argue that the concepts of identity formation, community, social and spiritual support networks, the ‘Third Place’, and new media technologies are all related to fandom. I show how the concepts can be used to gain a better understanding of the how fandoms work, their structure and their role in contemporary society, using the Transformers fan culture as my argument’s main site of discussion.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Rodriga, Melanie
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