#FREEBRITNEY: STRATEGIES OF COUNTERNARRATIVES AND SELF-REGULATION WITHIN FAN ACTIVISM
Keywords:#FreeBritney, digital activism, fandom, fan activism, popular culture
AbstractThe conservatorship of Britney Spears represented both a legal arrangement that placed severe restrictions on her autonomy, and also the center of a growing activist movement demanding a restoration of her rights. Commonly known as #FreeBritney, this primarily online group has worked since 2009 to raise awareness of and bring an end to Spears’ conservatorship. This paper situates the #FreeBritney movement at the intersection of fandom and digital activism, highlighting the activist potential of fan communities. Using a thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) of 16 interviews with self-identified #FreeBritney members, we describe key themes pertaining to the intersection of fandom and digital activism. A primary objective of #FreeBritney members involved piecing together an alternative narrative of Britney Spears’ career and conservatorship. In keeping with theorists who argue that hashtags constitute a digital counterpublic (Wimmer, 2016), interview participants recalled organizing “trending parties” to help increase the visibility and validity of resistant readings of Britney Spears’ conservatorship. Echoing de Kosnik’s (2012) theory of the “social innovations of fandom, interviews also demonstrated how the #FreeBritney movement collectively formed internal rules and codes, described as a “self-regulating body” of members. To the extent it reflects and diverges from fandom and digital activism, the #FreeBritney movement poses compelling questions about key tensions in both fields. With this analysis of #FreeBritney, we seek to interrogate fandom as a site of activist potential within the framework of a successful online movement, building on established theory and locating new sites of analysis.
How to Cite
Vaidya, A. R., & Lingel, J. (2023). #FREEBRITNEY: STRATEGIES OF COUNTERNARRATIVES AND SELF-REGULATION WITHIN FAN ACTIVISM. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.13096