Filling the gap: An exploration into the theories and methods used in fan studies


  • Eleonora Benecchi Institute of Media and Journalism Università della Svizzera Italiana
  • Colin Porlezza Università della Svizzera italiana
  • Laura Pranteddu Università della Svizzera italiana



Inductive content analysis, Interdisciplinarity, Journalism studies, Metadata analyses


Interdisciplinarity involves the interaction, combination, and integration of theories, concepts, and methods across different disciplines—and fan studies is commonly seen as an interdisciplinary field of research. This contribution sheds light on the question of interdisciplinarity by investigating contemporary notions of theory and methods used in two discipline-related scholarly journals through a metadata analysis of the keywords as well as a content analysis of fifty randomly selected abstracts in order to investigate the dominant theoretical approaches and methods used in the field of fan studies.

Author Biographies

Eleonora Benecchi, Institute of Media and Journalism Università della Svizzera Italiana

Eleonora Benecchi got MA cum laude in Communication Sciences at University of Bologna (Italy). In 2004 she published "Anime, cartoni con l´anima" an in depth analysis of Japanese Animation programming and reception in Italy. From 2004 up to 2007 she was teaching assistant for the course of television and radio communication at the University of Bologna where she was also tutor of Labs activities for the MA "Compass". During these years she was involved in different research project both with University of Bologna and other public and private subjects such as: “Gender representation in the Italian television” (University of Bologna and Ancorpari National Association, 2003); “Social Scheduling of Italian Television” (Studio Vivaldi Comunicazione and Segretariato Sociale RAI, 2003-2005). She then enrolled as a PhD student at the Università della Svizzera italiana, and started a research on the phenomenon of Internet fandom in a socio-economic perspective, under the supervision of prof. Giuseppe Richeri. She also worked as research assistant for “Analysis of Radio and Tv scheduling and contents in Swizerland” (UFCOM, IMeG and University of Fribourg, 2007-2010) and for the research project “Mass Media and Religion” (IMeG, 2008). Since the start of her PhD, she published scientific articles and book chapters in the field of Internet fandom. She has completed her PhD and works at the Institute of Media and Journalism (IMEG) of Lugano as a fellow researcher.

Colin Porlezza, Università della Svizzera italiana

Colin Porlezza is a journalism studies scholar born in Zurich, Switzerland. He is a Senior Assistant Professor of Digital Journalism with the Institute of Media and Journalism (IMeG) at the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). Currently, he is also a Research Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, NY, and he also holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellow position with the Department of Journalism at City, University London. Before joining USI, he also worked at the Department of Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich, and the Academy of Journalism and Media at the University of Neuchâtel.

His research focuses on automated journalism and AI, the datafication and hybridization of digital journalism, as well as on media accountability and transparency. His research so far has resulted in more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, including 25 journal articles and more than 25 book chapters, and two books with top publishers.

Laura Pranteddu, Università della Svizzera italiana

Laura Pranteddu, MSc., is currently a PhD student with the Institute of Media and Journalism at the Università della Svizzera italiana. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Sociology and an MSc. in Data Science from the University of Trento. During her studies she also visited University College Dublin and Virginia Tech. Her main field of research is the impact of artificial intelligence on digital journalism, where she looks into the way AI-driven tools currently used in newsrooms are designed to respect and support journalistic values.