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    Politicizing for the idol: China’s idol fandom nationalism in pandemic

    Wang, Yan and Luo, Ting ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0911-5835 (2023) Politicizing for the idol: China’s idol fandom nationalism in pandemic. Information, Communication and Society, 26 (2). pp. 304-320. ISSN 1369-118X

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    Chinese idol fans have been identified among the main forces in cyber nationalist activisms in recent years, acting as the nationalist fans protecting the state as an idol in response to external political shocks. Their skills in acknowledging, involving, and even reinventing the image of the state and national pride in cyber nationalist activisms do not emerge in a vacuum. This article examines how idol fans involve and reinvent the nationalist discourse in their everyday fan activities – idol promotion. We focus on the pandemic in 2020 as it provides a specific social and political context that allows us to understand better the interaction between idol fans and the state in their mundane fan activities. We construct our analysis under the computational grounded theory framework with over 6 million fan posts collected from Weibo and 11 in-depth interviews with active idol fans. Our findings show that when engaging in pandemic-related discussion, idol fans actively borrowed official discourse on nationalism and strategically responded to key political and social events in their idol promotion activities. The idol images they built are not only positive but also nationalist. Therefore, they play not only the commercial logic commonly seen in the Japanese and Korean K-pop/idol culture but also the political logic propagated by the state in China.

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