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Aca-fans and fan communities: An operative framework


Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


Fan communities represent a major interest for researchers of consumer culture. However, their study has confronted scholars with a fundamental problem: how can one reconcile critical distance with being sufficiently integrated within a given fan community to gather reliable information? The phrase ‘aca-fan’ has become a familiar designation for scholars who are also fans. However, while the theoretical implications of the aca-fan’s posture have been widely discussed, conceptual, practical and methodological modalities remain to be unified. Shifting the focus away from strictly theoretical debates, we propose an operative framework for the role of the aca-fan. We consider the position of aca-fans as a node between academic and fan communities, familiar with both languages and therefore facilitating the process of integration of knowledge and take into account the relations that the aca-fans can have with the field, models and materials they collect, as well as the hierarchy between academic and fan sources of knowledge, providing practical suggestions to acknowledge various degrees of authority of fan voices. Finally, since aca-fans have an important control of, and responsibility for, the fields, models and data they study and the discourses they cite, the implications of aca-fans’ works for the perception of fan communities by society will be analysed. This article supports the fact that a rationalised position of aca-fans could not only be an optimal method to study communities of fan but also an intrinsically ethical way to approach these large communities of consumers.