Identity construction in the Furry fandom

Austin, Jessica R. (2018) Identity construction in the Furry fandom. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

Furries are a fandom that has been developing away from the public eye and yet has appeared in a negative way in many media representations. So private are many Furry communities that many people would not know what a furry was if you were to ask them. Although definition can vary, to be a Furry, a person identifies with an animal as part of their personality; this can be on a mystical/religious level or a psychological level. Some Furries see themselves as being something other than wholly human with a personality which encompasses both animal and human traits. This is not entirely a new concept as many cultures such as Indigenous Australians and Native Americans and others engage some form of animal identity, and in both English and Japanese folklore, there are tales of people who really are animals. However, in modern Western society having a spirit animal or animal identity can sometimes be framed by others as social deviance rather than religious or totemic diversity. This thesis investigates how Furries use the online space to create a ‘Furry identity’. This thesis argues that for highly identified Furries, posthumanism is an appropriate framework to use. For less identified Furries, who are more akin to fans, fan studies literature is used to conceptualise their identity construction. This thesis addresses how stigmatization has affected their identity construction and how intra-fandom stigmatization has caused tension within the fandom between different members. The data for this thesis was collected using mixed methods via a questionnaire online which received over a thousand responses from Furries in the online Reddit community. The data was evaluated using posthuman philosophy using theorists such as Deleuze, Guattari and Haraway. This project argues that the Furries are not a homogenous group and with varying levels of identification within the fandom. The purpose of this project is to show that negative media representations of the Furry Fandom have wrongly pathologized the Furries as deviants as opposed to fans.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: fandom, Furry Fandom, fan studies, posthuman, online communities
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2019 13:39
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2019 15:35
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704249

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