Amateur Translation and Pop Music Fandom: A study of the role of translation in the fan communities within the Chinese fandom of AKB48 based on Communities of Practice theory

  • Ruijie Xie

Student thesis: Phd


Driven by fundamental economic, political, and social changes in China during the past three decades, participatory fandom culture has become a significant part of the contemporary cultural landscape of China. Lying at the heart of Chinese fandoms of foreign popular culture, translation-oriented fan communities have been making substantial contributions to shaping the audiovisual flows from foreign countries to China. Drawing on Wenger's Communities of Practice (CoP) theory (1998), this study adopts a sociological perspective to the study of the AKB48 Daba Fansubbing Group, one of the major fansubbing communities in the Chinese fandom of Japanese pop music group AKB48. Informed by this perspective, this study aims to reveal about how volunteer translation practice contributes to building and maintaining a fan community of practice and how the experience of fandom helps shape the identity formation processes of fans. In order to answer these questions, this research adopts a multimethod framework informed by Kozinets' (2015) netnography and thereby gathers various types of data, including archival, elicited, and produced data. By analysing the collected data, the researcher finds that along the community's three organisational dimensions, namely 'mutual engagement', 'joint enterprise', and 'shared repertoire', members of the Daba Fansubbing Group have negotiated a set of relations, strategies, and mechanisms which help them effectively maintain the community and connect the community to the AKB48 fandom. Also, community members' experience of fandom has allowed them to develop complex trajectories of identity formation. These findings allow the researcher to evaluate to what extent this study of fan audiovisual translation can contribute to our theoretical knowledge of online transnational fandoms, to the methodological inventory applicable to studies of fan translation, and to our understanding of the social impact of the participatory fandom culture. It is hoped that this study will deepen our understanding of fan audiovisual translation as a significant part of contemporary participatory fandom culture.
Date of Award1 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMaeve Olohan (Supervisor) & Rebecca Tipton (Supervisor)


  • netnography
  • virtual fan communities
  • sociological approach to translation studies
  • fan audiovisual translation
  • Communities of Practice

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