Sherlockology and Fan sites as gifts or exploited labor?

  • Bertha Chin Independent Scholar
Keywords: Battlestar Galactica, Fan labor, Gift culture, Sherlock, TV


Current scholarship on fandom has been preoccupied with examining the changing relationship between media industry professionals and fans. Media producers, celebrities, and industry insiders are increasingly establishing contact with fans, bypassing traditional media entertainment outlets to provide them with information directly. This contact is facilitated by social media networks. Fans serve as grassroots campaigners, promoters, and sometimes even public relations officers, acting as liaisons between media producers, celebrities, or industry insiders and fandom in general. In doing so, they take on roles traditionally fulfilled by professional PR and marketing personnel, and they do it for free, resulting in accusations that they are being exploited for their labor. However, fans do not necessarily view themselves as being exploited. We need to consider the possibility that they may regard their contributions as a service—or gift—to fandom. In examining the roles played by two popular fan sites, Sherlockology and, I propose to examine how fan labor may be considered an act of gift giving in fandom.