Aerden (aerden) wrote,

Sociology Questions re Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom

ha_achava is a sociology student asking questions about SF/F fandom for a paper she is writting. I decided to reply to her questions. This was pointed out to me by dsgood.

1. Define Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom. To me, science fiction and fantasy fandom refers to the group of people who are devoted enough to a science fiction or fantasy media creation that they seek out others who share their devotion and network with them to promote that creation. There are no solitary practitioners in 'fandom;' only groups. Individual fans can write their own stories or do their own artwork based on a genre, but until they connect with the wider fan base, they are not what I would consider participants in the fandom.

2. Describe the term “mundane. In the Society for Creative Anachronism, it is the term used to denote people who are not members of the SCA. Personally, I consider it rude because it implies that people who are not SCA members are uninteresting, which is not true.

3. What does it take for a person to relinquish their “mundane” status? Be willing to wear medieval costume in public.

4. Can a person return to being a “mundane” if they were once active? Certainly.

5. Can someone like a particular fantasy book/game and not be considered in "fandom"? Certainly. Both of my parents are big fans of classic Star Trek, but they never involved themselves in any of the fandom--never attended conventions or wrote stories based on the series.

6. What do you feel is the purpose for conventions? What is your favorite activity at a convention? To me, conventions are simply huge social events where fans of certain media creations can get together, meet each other, enjoy spending time with each other, and be with people who share their love of said creation. My favorite part of conventions is going to the Dealers' Room and attending panels on forensics and writing when they are available. I also tend to go to conventions where I know that friends of mine are also going, so I can see them.

I should say that I am no longer a frequent convention-goer. I have come to prefer the Internet because of its immediacy and the fact that it is vastly less expensive than attending a convention. On the Internet, I can do just about everything I could do at a convention--except for seeing people I care about in person. I really miss that.

7. Do you prefer conventions that focus specifically on one thing or the general conventions? I prefer small conventions which focus on one or a few closely related things, rather than large extravaganzas.

8. What is the difference and how big of a difference does it make in the convention experience to go to a large con as opposed to a small to mid-sized con? Frankly, I feel lonely at large conventions, particularly if I am there alone. You can't really see and do everything at a large convention; you must pick and choose carefully. Plus, you can get lost at larger conventions, and there are just in general too many crowds at the larger ones.

9. How do you explain what happens at conventions to your (possibly mundane) friends? How do you feel received? I don't generally talk about conventions much with friends who are not fans. It would be like talking about a knitting circle with a friend who didn't like to knit. No point in doing it.

10. If you had to break down a convention into sections or parts, how would you do so? What are the standard components? To me, the omponents of a convention are:

  • Panel discussions
  • Dealers' Room
  • Art Show
  • Celebrity Meet and Greets
  • Video Room
  • Masquerade
  • Parties

11. Do you feel that your participation in fandom would be described as "deviant"? Why or why not? No. To me, participation in fandom is not a thing I would consider deviant. Deviance is behavior beyond the merely abnormal or eccentric. Deviance involves people getting hurt by it. The typical science fiction or fantasy fan is not harmed by his or her love of the genres. It is no different from them being an avid fan of mystery novels or romance novels. Love of science fiction or fantasy becomes deviant only when the fan is already so mentally disturbed that he or she seeks to escape into the fantasy world or to impose the fantasy world on others. A fan who decides that he is his gaming character is 'deviant'--mentally ill. The woman who wore her Starfleet uniform to jury duty was (mildly) deviant; she was hurting herself and her reputation in the non-fannish world.

Just my two cents worth!

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