BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Date of Submission



Rahma Muhammad Mian, Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


Ever since 2013, Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been encouraging sociopolitical reform against racial discrimination. The movement, which originated online, saw a surge in support after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. As nation-wide protests engulfed US, many industries, individuals and communities demanded for justice and accountability.

Various fan communities also supported the movement by organizing projects, funds and taking over social media to advocate against systemic racism. Such involvement of fans debunks the historic, mainstream notion that fans are irrationally obsessed and don’t care about anything beyond their object of affection – be it a song or a sport.

Within the framework of online movements, this project attempts to understand the way music and sports – two categorically different cultural texts – fit into the entertainment-politics nexus. Additionally, within the context of Black Lives Matter movement, this project explores how activities of sports and music fandoms blur the demarcation between entertainment and politics. The specific sports fandom this study centers on is NBA fandom, which is created around the sports league, National Basketball Association. Similarly, the specific music fandom this paper narrows down on is ARMY, which is a fandom built around a South Korean boy band named BTS.

I conduct a comparative analysis between ARMY and NBA fandom through a methodological combination of media and cultural studies, by conducting a discourse analysis on Twitter. I analyze the ways these fandoms mobilized with the help of digital media tools as well as strive to discover what influenced their mobilization, hereby attempting to recognize the underlying structures of power that govern fan mobilization.

This project is part of fan studies’ scholarship, which tries to understand fan behavior, group identity and sociocultural practices of fandoms. I use this scholarship to trace the connection between fandoms, media and politics. Building onto the existing body of research, this study questions the differences in fan practices across two dynamic cultural texts by comparatively examining the role of ARMY and NBA fandom as activists amidst the larger on-going Black Lives Matter movement.



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