Defining and understanding fans and fan culture offers important insight into contemporary consumer patterns. Fan studies has provided extensive analysis of particular patterns of audience consumption and production, and has examined the relationship between these. Moreover, it is argued that given increasing media and consumption differentiation and narrowcasting, mainstream consumer patterns are becoming increasingly “fan-like.”

However, defining what is meant by the term fan can prove quite difficult. Most people have a general, and largely shared, understanding of what a fan is, notes Matt Hills. A fan is generally seen as someone with a strong interest in, maybe even loyalty to, a particular sport, team, celebrity, television show, band, and so on. However, even this simple definition raises more questions than it answers. For instance, what ...

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