Would you say there is a difference between being a fan and being in a fandom?
Tamara: Yes. Fan-ness is active participation, while fandom implies social behavior within a subculture. It’s possible to enjoy and quietly participate in a series without getting involved with other fans. If you, for example, write fanfic for your own amusement, then you’re being a fan without being in a fandom.
Ewen: I think that question really hinges on how you define “fandom.” There are people every bit as obsessed with their favorite sports team as the most hardcore Star Trek or anime fan, but I’ve never heard of anyone talking in terms of “the 49ers fandom.” I guess I tend to think of “fandom” as a certain strain of deeply involved, highly geeky fan activity that I first experienced in the form of the science fiction convention scene, but that has since spread elsewhere. Within that realm I think of the distinction between being part of a fandom and being a fan in terms of fandom being creative and interactive. Fans watch a show, people in the associated fandom have passionate discussions about it and often create things related to it (fanfic, fanart, cosplay) and/or are avid consumers of those fan creations or other “extended” activities.
Bonnie: I think the difference between a fan and a fandom is the difference between consumption and interactivity. One can be a fan of just about everything – reality TV, sports, standard bestselling novels. When a fan becomes a member of a fandom is when they stop passively consuming the text and start interacting with it – taking it apart and putting it back together in the form of fanworks and in-depth meta discussions with other fans. For that to happen, the original text (whether it be an anime, a book series or a musician’s body of works) has to engage the consumer’s imagination and passion. Things like sports create passion, yes – but not imagination. The game is there in front of you, there’s not much creative you can do with it. Therefore, that stadium of cheering people isn’t a fandom, just a bunch of fans.
Oh, a full response. Being a fan can be a solo activity. One can enjoy a book, a movie, a sport, a you-name-it from the comfort on one’s couch. Being in fandom, though, means getting more involved, interacting with fellow fans, going beyond what’s presented and going to read fanfic, see fanart, hear filk, or even creating all of those. Fandom implies a community, drawn together from the book, movie, sport, you-name-it. Yes, that includes the Green Bay Packer Cheeseheads, even if they don’t realize it.
Ellen: I see it that fans are people with an opinion, or a fondness, and people in a fandom are those who’ve transformed that fond opinion into a hobby, or an active part of their lives. People in fandoms go beyond enjoying at a fan-distance by contributing creatively and frequently to the object of their fandom. They can do this by bringing hoards of others into the fandom, or even by just reblogging a lot of internet jokes/adaptations, and thinking up their own spin-offs and ways of participating in the active love.