Kairos 19.3


Daniel Cavicchi (1998) has observed that Springsteen fans see concerts as unique personal experiences, which exist within a lineage of past Springsteen concerts and other fan experiences:

For fans, a Springsteen concert is not a single theatrical event but rather a ritual in which they regularly participate over time. Fans see any concert as connected to all other concerts and understand their concert going as a repetitive action, something they've done before and which they have extensive knowledge. . . . Many fans even keep track of what songs Springsteen plays from concert to concert. . . . (pp. 90–92).

Because fandom is so intimately connected to who one is as an individual, fan experiences merge with individual histories. Henry Jenkins (2013) has noticed a similar phenomenon with Star Trek fans (p. 99). I have labeled tweets that show fan lineage Historicizing: "A tweet in which the author locates their activities within a history of their own life and/or fandom." In these moments, fans are aware of themselves and the history of their fan activities. They see their concert-going fan experiences within a trajectory that emerges with each additional concert experience:

Example Corpus Tweet

Seeing Springsteen for 20th time tonight. Finally played Ties That Bind at one of my shows. Guess it was bound to happen. #Bruce is awesome!

Example Corpus Tweet

Best Springsteen show EVER...got to hear my all time favorite song "Candy's Room" ... My life is complete @greasylake

Example Corpus Tweet

I've been going to @springsteen shows for 20 years and I've been waiting to hear my favorite song. Tonight, he played Racing In the Streets.

Coding a Tweet

Example Corpus Tweet

It took me 20+shows and being a fan since birth 26 yrs ago but I finally got my favorite live Racing in the Street #springsteen #happytears

  • Open Coding

    The first stage in a grounded theory analysis is open coding. During open coding, researchers create an extensive list of characteristics about each unit of analysis. For my study, each tweet was a unit of analysis. The goal of open coding is for researchers to get to know the data more fully.

    During open coding for the above tweet, the following open codes were applied:

    a tweet that contains a hashtag

    a tweet that contains a #springsteen hashtag

    a tweet posted during a concert

    a tweet that contains a Springsteen song title

  • Axial Coding

    After open coding, I decided to focus on tweets posted before, during, and after the April 4, 2012 concert at the Izod Center. Because this tweet was posted during the concert, it was included in the study.

    The next stage is axial coding. During axial coding, a researcher is looking to better understand phenomena within the unit of analysis. When completing this stage, I asked myself, "What is this tweet doing?" I asked this question because the answer is active, often in the form of a gerund, which Kathy Charmaz (2006) recommended using when axially coding data. More than one code can be applied to each tweet, so I applied a primary code and one or more secondary codes where appropriate.

    Primary code: Historicizing: A tweet in which the author locates their activities within a history of their own life and/or fandom

    Secondary codes: Affiliating; emerging; intertextual; narrating; perpetuating

  • Why Historicizing as Primary Code?

    One of the main challenges of axial coding is locating the primary goal for a particular tweet. With this tweet, I had to determine the author's intentions. Was her goal to discuss her fan history or to narrate something that happened at the concert with her history being a part of the narration?

    Ultimately, the structure of the tweet determined how I coded it. The tweet opens, "It took me 20+ shows and being a fan since birth," clearly locating the tweet within the author's fan concert-going history.

    In 139 characters, the author reveals how many shows she has been to, how long she has been a fan, when her fandom began, how old she is, what might very well be her favorite Springsteen song, and her emotional response to hearing it. It is an unprompted mini oral history, providing insight into the meaning of the event for one particular fan author.