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

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2020-02-28
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Abstract

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.

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