Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

James Gilmore

Committee Member

Ashley McKenzie

Committee Member

Elizabeth Gilmore


Survivor is an American competition-based reality television show in which contestants compete with and against one another in physical and social challenges while being stranded in remote parts of the world. In the end, the last contestant standing is awarded a one-million-dollar grand prize. Since premiering in 2000, Survivor now has over 40 completed seasons in its catalogue which has allowed for the show to develop many fans over the past two and a half decades. However, not every Survivor fan thinks or behaves in the same way. For this thesis I paired Henry Jenkins and Janet Staiger’s fan action categories (1992a; 1992b; 2005) with other communication concepts such as James Carey’s ritual communication (1975) to conduct semi-structured interviews with Survivor fans to better understand what it looks like and means to be a fan of the show from a ground level. In conducting these interviews, three main themes emerged which can be described as 1). varying levels of fandom from casual fans to superfans 2). a comfort in regularity that comes with watching new episodes of Survivor each week and 3). a familial component in the sense that each participant in this study was introduced to Survivor either with or by a family member or loved one. These first two themes are reflective of the works from Jenkins and Staiger (1992a; 1992b; 2005) and Carey (1975) while the third theme has seemingly highlighted a gap in the literature in that little to no research has been done that comprehensively studies the roles that family can play in fandom introduction and maintenance. This implies that while the current scholarship in fan studies certainly has its merits, there is still more that can and should be studied going forward as seen with the finding of this theme of family present in this thesis.



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