Lines of distinction: self-other dynamics within cultural groups

Knaus, Julia (2019) Lines of distinction: self-other dynamics within cultural groups. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (12MB)


Lines of Distinction establishes a critical framework for the study of relationship dynamics within cultural groups. As a critical framework, Lines of Distinction are differences associated with value judgements that determine what and who is considered ‘self,’ and therefore ‘good,’ or ‘other,’ and therefore ‘bad.’ This is applied to the often unexamined interior dynamics of cultural groups, using the English-speaking Sherlock Holmes fandom as a primary case study.

The thesis uses Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault’s conceptions of ‘power’ in its critical framework. It focusses in particular on self-other dynamics in a non-hierarchical sense, in that any individual or faction within a cultural group considers themselves to be ‘self’/‘good’ while simultaneously being thought of as ‘other’/‘bad’ by other individuals or factions. This contests an objective hierarchical structure and argues that these Lines of Distinction emerge only through actual practice and interaction. The thesis extensively draws on primary data generated by the actual members of the chosen cultural group, Sherlock Holmes fans. This data was gathered primarily through a questionnaire, interviews and participant observation. It captures three broad categories of Lines of Distinction within this fandom: those relating to the ways in which fans approach their fandom; those that concern the ways fans engage with each other; and those that touch on fans’ demographics. The interplay between these three broad categories is then examined through three fandom activities, meetings, fiction writing and non-fiction writing.

The thesis highlights the complexities of self-other dynamics within groups such as fandoms and the applicability of the framework of Lines of Distinction in diverse situations. In this way, this thesis adds to conversations around cultural power dynamics more broadly, while also giving a more balanced perspective on fandoms, which are cultural groups that have traditionally been homogenised in view of an outside Other. The overall aim of the project is to provide a critical framework that enables the further examination of the interior dynamics of a diverse range of such cultural groups, in fandom and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Pearson, Roberta
Evans, Elizabeth
Keywords: cultural groups, power, fandom, Sherlock Holmes, fans, fan studies, cultural studies
Subjects: H Social sciences > HM Sociology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 59350
Depositing User: Knaus, Julia
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2020 09:20
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2021 04:30

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View