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Being Jacques Villeneuve: Formula One, 'Agency' and the Fan

In this thesis, I analyse my fandom for the Formula One driver, Jacques Villeneuve. Despite its rampant commercialism, innovative mediation, prestige and popular status within global sport, Formula One is surprisingly an under-researched topic in academia. Moreover, 'intense' fandom has often been stigmatised; at worst associating such individuals with pathological and obsessive behaviours or refuting their affections as merely symptomatic of the socio-economic forces that transform fans into duped consumers. This thesis argues against such simplistic disqualifications and reconceptualises fandom in light of how the structure/agency binary has itself been reconceptualised within media and cultural studies. Rather than privileging either the determining social, mediated and commercial structures, or championing the 'active agential' capacities of social individuals, Grossberg's notions of 'affect' and 'structured mobility' are drawn upon to underpin a more flexible explanation of contemporary fandom. In particular, affect offers theoretical purchase for how fans form attachments with selective media objects and why these come to 'matter' for specific individuals. Furthermore, by marrying affect with 'structured mobility', affective investments are recognised for their capacity to 'anchor' individuals in specific and concrete spatial/temporal 'moments' of social reality as they navigate both the mediated apparatus of the sport and the structured social, cultural and economic terrain that shapes their mediated fandom. Such insights are developed through a 'funnelling' approach in this thesis which moves from an examination of collective Formula One fandom to my own, exploring the affective traces of a friction that Villeneuve's maverick status provided within the broader machinery of the sport and to which this fan has responded.
Type of thesis
Sturm, D. (2009). Being Jacques Villeneuve: Formula One, ‘Agency’ and the Fan (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3965
The University of Waikato
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