‘My whole world shifted’: Identity and transformation in becoming-a-fan narratives | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 9, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2046-6692
  • E-ISSN: 2046-6706

Abstract

Based on a multi-site ethnography and participant interviews with fans of The Beatles (primarily John Lennon) and Johnny Cash, this article discusses transformational accounts of becoming-a-fan narratives. Fan interviews took place during two intervals: in the fall of 2013 and winter 2014, and in winter and spring 2019. A primary focus is Sandvoss’s conception of the ‘extension of the self’ concerning the object of a fan’s devotion. Extensions of the self operate to reaffirm the fan’s sense of self and inform identification with the celebrity. To clarify this concept, this article considers ‘becoming-a-fan’ narratives as a way to illustrate how the self works in the lives of fans and how a turn towards fan identity helps to refocus a previous emphasis on becoming-a-fan as similar to religious conversion. I argue fans of The Beatles and Cash relate to one or more values embedded in the celebrity and, in combination with socialization to the fan object, transition to a fan identity. Harrington and Bielby’s notion of helps to explain what maintains this identity over the life course. In conclusion, I consider whether this new-found identity reveals an important dynamic about the way people transition to fandom.

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2021-09-01
2024-02-28
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