Fandom as religion: a social-scientific assessment

Towson University. Department of Anthropology, Sociology & Criminal Justice
Citation of Original Publication
Elliott, Michael A. 2021. "Fandom as Religion: A Social-Scientific Assessment." The Journal of Fandom Studies (9)2. Retrieved July 28, 2021 (
My objective in this article is to outline both a conceptual and a methodological reframing of the ‘fandom as religion’ comparison from a social-scientific perspective. This comparison is familiar territory by now. It has survived the decades because there are, in fact, some striking similarities between fan devotion and religious devotion. However, there are some lingering issues that continue to hamper this field. As a result, I begin by discussing these issues in more detail and highlight how they can be problematic. Next, I discuss how fan devotion is better conceptualized as a sacred rather than a religious experience. Finally, I suggest suitable methods for gathering first-hand data from fans to test this association. On the whole, I believe this reframing will lead to a more accurate understanding of fandoms and chart a clearer path forward for scholars in this field.