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    Fandom, pop music, and reproduction of race–gender inequalities

    Buchanan, Sascha (2023) Fandom, pop music, and reproduction of race–gender inequalities. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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    Abstract

    In Fandom, Pop Music and the Reproduction of Race-Gender Inequalities I explore through Critical Discourse Analysis of contemporary entertainment media discourses and interviews with Beyoncé and Rihanna ‘stans’, juxtaposition as a racialized–gendered technique of power used by entertainment media discourses to not only dichotomize Beyoncé and Rihanna, but also reproduce upgraded controlling images of Black women in popular music. The development of the concept of juxtaposition as a critical analysis of gendering/racialization as a major technique of power in this thesis, is an important contribution for the disciplines of Cultural Studies, Postcolonial studies, and Black feminist theory. I explore how celebrity discourses (i.e., entertainment news, gossip) reposition Beyoncé and Rihanna back into service through juxtaposition and the controlling images of Black women (e.g. virgin/whore, controlling images, respectability politics, villain-seductress-perpetrator/victim-in-need-of-rescue). As part of my original contribution to Cultural Studies knowledge I argue that the ‘controlling’ function in controlling images has been deregulated through neoliberal mechanisms, such as resilience discourse (James, 2015). To develop juxtaposition as a concept, I interview Beyoncé and Rihanna fans in elicitation interviews to capture the ways in which fans interpret and reproduce these juxtaposing discourses through their fan labour practices. Juxtaposition is a technique a power that places and organises Black/Brown people (particularly women) side by side with contrasting effects. It is different from Barthes’ ‘binary oppositions’ (1992) in the sense that Barthes' discussion lacks a focused concern with race and racism, whereas in my thesis, I account for the role of enslavement and colonial violence in the technique of juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is a mechanism of white supremacist capitalist patriarchal violence, separation and surveillance of Black and Brown people, particularly Black and Brown women. Fundamentally, juxtaposition is the upgraded colonial structuring of ‘divide and rule’; it is the neoliberal version that looks like deregulated competition and choice but it is in fact a continuation of deep inequality.

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