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Female fans and social media : micro-communities and the formation of social capital

Fenton, A; Gillooly, L; Vasilica, CM

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Authors

A Fenton

L Gillooly



Abstract

Research question: Using the theoretical lens of social capital, this study explores the challenges faced by female football fans in performing their fandom on social media, and how they respond to these challenges in the way they consume and express their fandom within these online spaces. In doing so, the study responds to calls for further, empirical research on both the experiences of female sports fans and the darker side of social media.
Research methods: An exploratory, qualitative research design is adopted, comprising in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 15 female fans of European professional football clubs. Interview data is analysed using inductive thematic analysis.
Results and Findings: The study contributes novel evidence to the fields of social media, social capital and football fandom, revealing that the male hegemony of football fandom is reinforced through social media. This leads to modified online behaviour by female fans, whereby micro-communities are formed in which they discuss football. The splintering of the online fan community into these micro-communities represents a form of cyberbalkanization and has implications for female fans’ ability to build bridging social capital on social media.
Implications: This study responds to calls for a more theoretically-informed approach to social media research in sport, drawing on theories of social capital and performative sport fandom to understand the strategies employed by female fans in performing their fandom on social media. The findings raise questions of how professional sports clubs can engage female audiences and champion inclusive cultures of fandom.

Citation

Fenton, A., Gillooly, L., & Vasilica, C. (2021). Female fans and social media : micro-communities and the formation of social capital. European Sport Management Quarterly, https://doi.org/10.1080/16184742.2020.1868546

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 21, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 26, 2021
Publication Date Jan 26, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 19, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 26, 2022
Journal European Sport Management Quarterly
Print ISSN 1618-4742
Electronic ISSN 1746-031X
Publisher Routledge
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/16184742.2020.1868546
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1080/16184742.2020.1868546
Related Public URLs http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/resm20/current
Additional Information Access Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in European Sport Management Quarterly on 26th January 2021, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/16184742.2020.1868546

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