Media Use and Political Engagement: Cross-Cultural Approaches| When Pop and Politics Collide: A Transcultural Perspective on Contested Practices in Pop Idol Fandoms in China and The West

Qian Huang, Simone Driessen, Daniel Trottier


Political engagement is often a conscious strategy for some celebrities and their fandoms, yet it can also be taken in unintended or undesired directions, most notably in contested practices such as calls for the cancellation of pop idols. This research compares fans’ perception and reactive engagement in two such empirical cases in China and the United States, namely “the 227 Incident” and controversies surrounding Taylor Swift. Through close readings of these two cases, coupled with in-depth semistructured interviews, the authors compare how transcultural pop idols’ fandoms interact with politics in China and the West. The authors propose to adopt the lens of neo-tribalism to study these practices to explore how fandoms as neo-tribes are framed in conventional politics and how fans negotiate between their neo-tribal and conventional political identities when in conflict.


fandom, pop idols, neo-tribalism, everyday political engagement, cancel culture, comparative study

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