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Destabilization, adaptation and the long-term fan object: The search for continuity in later-life sports fandom

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Whilst there is a growing literature in fan studies on the ageing fan, there is a distinct lack of engagement with the body of work already established within the ‘ageing sciences’, such as gerontology. This article begins to address such issues by applying the gerontological notion of continuity theory to the study of later-life, long-term sports fandom. Drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 35 retired or semi-retired sports fans, all of whom are in the third and fourth ‘life ages’, this article argues for a theory of fan continuity whereby the fan adapts their relationship to the fan object in response to various challenges to their fandom. These challenges to the fannish status quo are destabilizations, which, upon an adaptation on behalf of the fan and ultimate re-stabilization of the fandom, result in an outcome which can be assessed on a positive‐negative experiential continuum. This is a continuous process as the later-life adult looks for consistency of self, and continuity in fandom.
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Keywords: adaptation; ageing; continuity theory; destabilization; gerontology; sports fandom

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • The multi – disciplinary nature of fan studies makes the development of a community of scholars sometimes difficult to achieve. The Journal of Fandom Studies seeks to offer scholars a dedicated publication that promotes current scholarship into the fields of fan and audience studies across a variety of media. It focuses on the critical exploration, within a wide range of disciplines and fan cultures, of issues surrounding production and consumption of popular media (including film, music, television, sports and gaming), The journal aims to address key issues in fans studies itself, while also fostering new areas of enquiry that take us beyond the bounds of current scholarship.
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