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Fandom in My Pocket: Mobile Social Intimacies in WhatsApp Fan Groups

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Mobile Media and Social Intimacies in Asia

Abstract

The sociality of fandom is highly visible on social networking platforms. Little has been said, however, about fandom in small, closed social networks that exist predominantly on smartphone applications, like mobile instant messaging applications WhatsApp, Telegram, and LINE. This chapter addresses this gap, as it investigates how individuals residing in Singapore participate in WhatsApp fan group chats. These fan group chats are conceptualized as private, mobile fan spaces, where mobile intimacy shapes individuals’ fan experience and therefore constitutes an important part of fan culture. The concept of mobile intimacy is helpful in understanding how fan group chats allow for communication and perceived proximity over time and space, and in grasping the significance of these chats in the social circles and daily lives of individual fans. Apart from the obvious utility of WhatsApp in interpersonal communication, findings show that individuals use fan chat groups to build personal relationships with other fans, to manage the boundaries of fandom within their everyday life, as a private archive, and as a means to negotiate their place in the fan ecology. Overall, the social practices and intimacies that arise in WhatsApp group chats constitute a crucial part of the fan experience that differ from that of other open social network platforms.

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Correspondence to Hattie Liew .

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Liew, H. (2020). Fandom in My Pocket: Mobile Social Intimacies in WhatsApp Fan Groups. In: Cabañes, J.V.A., Uy-Tioco, C.S. (eds) Mobile Media and Social Intimacies in Asia. Mobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1790-6_6

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