A Great Time to Be a Nerd: A Phenomenological Study of Pop Culture Enthusiasts and Fandom

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This thesis explores the significance of pop culture and fandom in the lives of local pop culture enthusiasts. Existing fandom studies focus on sports, religion, or politics whereas most media-based pop culture research involves niche fandoms. This study is important because it broadens the scope of the latter, aids to the dissolvement of associated stereotypes, and contributes to a third-wave movement of pop culture fandom research. Eight individuals were selected to participate in this study using purposive sampling. In-depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted. By employing Colaizzi’s seven-step method of phenomenological data analysis, subthemes were identified and then categorized in terms of similarity. From there, three dominate themes emerged: nostalgia, connection to media, and social belonging/self-identity. These three themes allow for better understanding as to why pop culture is integral to an individual’s life.

Keywords: pop culture, fandom, nostalgia, social belonging, relatability