Auto-Ethnography: My Levels of Fan Cultural and Fan Social Capital

The ideas of cultural and social capital link closely to the ideas about taste and how it creates an identity.

My own fan cultural capital developed from a variety of reasons, textual knowledge, impressive catalogues and interaction with a fan object/community. Textual knowledge is knowing a vast amount of about a fan object, for example with me, my fan cultural capital is greatened by knowing the message behind certain lyrics or music videos because I know the context of that band. With impressive catalogues, my cultural capital is heightened by accumulating records and collectors’ items such as exclusive versions of CD’s and vinyls, these objects related to my favourite bands and artists increases my cultural capital and starts to develop an identity for myself as to what I like and how I express it. The final key aspect to my fan cultural capital is what I consider to be the most distinctive area that shows a greater capital for fans, not just myself – interaction with fan object/community. Having the best interacting with an object or a fan community can create a sense of cultural capital, the battle between fandoms as to who’s is better is seen all over, particularly with Directioners. Cultural capital works with economic capital to produce social privilege and distinction (Fiske, J. 1992), from this, we can say cultural capital leads to social capital.

Drawing on my own experiences of fan capital, I believe fan social capital cements a person’s taste and identity. Social capital is developed through having direct contact with important figures attached to fan object and gate keeping certain information; in a sense, it makes that idea of ‘who you know’ more apparent and can increase your social capital and further distinguishes your identity and taste through association.

For me, being friends with bands or getting myself recognised through fan activities such as attending gigs, writing reviews and socialising and networking online pushes my social capital and gives me an identity that not only do the bands recognise but what other fans will see me as too. People choose their music not only for its message but also for the ways it can bolster their self-image (Lewis, G. 2008), leading to strengthening of my own personal identity. John Fiske says that “fans are the most discriminating and selective of people and the cultural capital they produce is the mist highly developed and visible of all”.

From my participation in fanbases, I disagree with this idea, it relates mostly to extreme fans such as One Direction which I have been a part of, where there is competition and rivalry and discrimination about who can and can’t like them, it’s unpleasant. However, compared to my most recent fan involvement, this is not the case; people are welcoming and like to encourage sharing these fan objects (bands) and attend gigs together. It’s very dependent upon the fan object.



Fiske, J. (1992) ‘The Cultural Economy of Fandom’. IN Lewis, L. A. (Ed.) The Adoring Audience. London, Routledge, pp30-49.

Lewis, G. (2008) ‘Taste Cultures and Musical Stereotypes: Mirrors of Identity?’ Popular Music and Society


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