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Type: Thesis
Title: Contested Kingdom: The role of online media in the relationship between Disney and fans over Disneyland
Author: McCarthy, William
Issue Date: 2019
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : Media
Abstract: Over the past 30 years, the Disney corporation and fans in Southern California have vied online and in the park over the meaning and purpose of Disneyland. The arrival of online social platforms in the 1990s combined with the park annual pass program to enable Southern California passholders, who number approximately one million today, to show a strong sense of place attachment to Disneyland with visits on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis. This thesis reveals how the nature of each online social platform, as well as social and cultural factors, have shaped the relationship between local Disneyland fans and the Disney corporation. In the 1990s, the characteristics of Usenet newsgroups afforded fans the cultural and social capital to build a discourse online to resist the directions of the corporation. In the 2000s, the characteristics of fan owned website discussion boards enabled the corporation to gain control of discourse online by bestowing cultural capital on fan owners with high transaction costs in exchange for positive coverage. In the 2010s, the characteristics of social network media, particularly Facebook, and the mass diffusion of smartphones, cemented corporate control of the discourse due to the co-option of influencers and fragmentation of online fandom. However, the low transaction costs of the new platforms led to a proliferation of online fan groups that established a multitude of new social formations in the park. Disney also co-opted fan media, practices, and events to produce its own social and economic capital. The 30-year arc examined in this study illustrates the gradual subsiding of the early democratic promise of many-to-many communication online in favor predominantly of the corporate controlled model endemic to legacy media technologies. The early democratic promise of many-to-many communication online subsided in favor predominantly of the corporate controlled model endemic to legacy media technologies. The mixed methods of qualitative (interviews, participant observation, and data documents) and quantitative (online survey) tools, and grounded theory were used to establish a framework to analyze the interplay of corporation, fans, and online social platforms around a fandom object as a physical place using medium theory (Meyrowitz, 1994), Van Dijck’s (2013) platform analysis model, Bourdieu’s (1986) forms of capital, Foucault’s (1980) power-knowledge, and place attachment theory (Manzo & Perkins, 2006).
Advisor: Humphreys, Sal
Barbour, Kim
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2019
Keywords: Disneyland
fan studies
medium theory
social media
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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