Doctoral candidate Qiuyan Guo successfully defended her dissertation, "Exploring Chinese Celebrity Fans’ Online Information Behaviors and Understandings of Their Practices," on December 6.
Her committee included Associate Professor Carol Tilley (chair); Associate Professor Kathryn La Barre; Assistant Professor Melissa Ocepek; and Laura Hetrick, associate professor of art and design.
Abstract: Despite that contemporary celebrity fans ongoingly engage in fandom-related information activities on social media, these extensive interactions are rarely explored in scholarship. Researchers have also yet to consider how fans seek, make sense of, create, and share information based on their celebrity interpretations, an essential aspect of their fandom, and how they understand these interpretation-centered information practices, especially in the Chinese entertainment context where celebrity fan culture is largely stereotyped as "problematic." This dissertation thus provides an exploratory study that aims to understand these unexplored fan practices, using unobstructive observation and semi-structured interviews to investigate the representative online fan communities of two Chinese musical actors, Ayanga and Yunlong. The findings reveal that fans interpret three key facets of both actors, on which basis they engage in information activities to enjoy their fandom and validate their beliefs. These findings enrich scholarly perspectives on multiple aspects within information behavior and literacy research as fans fundamentally exhibit strong and decisive agency when navigating information on social media for both themselves and others.