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Productive leisure in post-Fordist fandom

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For over a decade, scholars have considered how digital play has converged with the work of media production. From esports and volunteer moderation to play-testing, the circuits of game production are accelerated by players’ passionate engagements as fans and hobbyists, which are intertwined with their professional ambitions to join the industry. It is now taken for granted in scholarly discourse that work and play, production and consumption, and professional and amateur identities are blurring. Researchers propose hybrid terms such as ‘prosumption’ or ‘playbour’ to capture the variation, complexity and contradictions in media participation and value creation across diverse fan practices. This analysis proposes that these post-Fordist neologisms oversimplify techno-cultural changes and legitimate ambiguities in fans’ relationships with media companies and their imperatives for productivism in platform capitalism and its gig economies. In contrast, hobbies have always been a mediating category of productive leisure that can be traced back to industrialization’s cleavage of labour from recreation. This article argues that charting how this liminal category of hobbies has been institutionalized in contemporary media practices provides an analytical lens to interrogate post-Fordist obligations of productivity and neo-liberal expectations of entrepreneurialism.

Keywords: games and play; hobbies; participatory cultures; playbour; post-Fordism; prosumption; serious leisure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419367494Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Publication date: March 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • 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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