Fandom is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. The term comes from the noun "fan" and the affix "-dom", as in such words as "kingdom" or "freedom". While the term is now used to apply to groups of people fascinated with any subject, it originally applied specifically to those with an enthusiastic appreciation for sports. Webster's Dictionary traces the usage of the term "fandom" back as far as 1903.
A fandom can grow up centered around any area of human interest or activity. The subject of fan interest can be narrowly defined, focused on something like an individual celebrity; or wide, encompassing entire hobbies, genres or fashions. Fandom as a term can also be used in a broad sense to refer to an interconnected social network of individual fandoms, many of which overlap. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object of their fandom. They spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, which differentiates them from people who have only a casual interest in the area.
When referring to an organized sub-culture, the term "fandom" is often associated with the international community of fans of the science fiction and fantasy genres, which dates back to the 1930s. More broadly, the term is also often applied to "media fandom", the international community of fans of various media, including film, television, comic books, and anime, as well as the traditional print media. Originally using print-based media, these fandoms have largely migrated to the internet, which they also use for the purpose of archiving detailed information pertinent to their given fanbase. Some fans write fan fiction, stories based around the universe and characters of their chosen fandom.
Fans, have, on occasion, organized on behalf of cancelled television series. In particular, fans of Forever Knight organized to petition that the show not be cancelled, and later to lobby for its return.
The entertainment industry refers to the totality of fans devoted to a particular area of interest, whether organized or not, as the "fanbase".
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article on fandom.