Smith, Joseph (2021) SPORTS FANDOM IN LATER LIFE: THE EVERYDAY, NOSTALGIA AND HOME. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis considers the role of sports fandom in the lives of older adults who have left full-time employment. It looks at the centrality of the fan object in the (semi-)retired person’s life, the ways in which it helps to structure life after full-time work, and the various ways in which it guides identity construction during the last life phases.

Whilst we are starting to see more work focusing on fandom, ageing and the life course, ‘there is a tendency in this literature to discuss aging and the life course atheoretically, ignoring a rich body of scholarship in gerontology, sociology, psychology and human development that examines how lives unfold over time’ (Harrington & Bielby, 2010: 430). This thesis seeks to address such shortcomings by working with the ageing sciences – gerontology in particular – to help make sense of the relationship between fan and fan object across what are often very long time periods.

The following thesis covers later life sports fandom in the context of everyday living, arguing that the fan object becomes embedded within the quotidian, helping to routinise fandom and nurture ontological security. It uses the gerontological notion of continuity theory (Atchley, 1989, 1993, 1999) to assess how older fans maintain very long fan-object relationships, arguing that the fan constructs internal “good” objects during their life course. It overviews the later life sports fan’s use of nostalgia, with a particular emphasis on what I call ‘reconstructive nostalgia’ (based on Boym, 2001) as a means of manipulating the contemporary fan-text relationship. Finally, it considers notions of ‘home’, the dwelling in which fan objects are mostly engaged with, and fandom as an extension of the German concept Heimat, which contributes to the creation of ‘Heimatic spaces’ (Bennett, 2017) in which fandom in later life is experienced. The later life fan is a creative, imaginative individual.

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