Emergence of individuated nationalism among the major baseball fans in South Korea
This dissertation investigates the transformation of identities of people who experience globalization through mass media in their local places. I explore how South Korean sports fans constitute individual and collective identities through enjoying global sports, i.e. Major League Baseball. This study examines both the process of globalizing MLB in South Korea in the late 90s and the ways that Korean MLB fan enjoy MLB through interacting with other fans in their online community.
This study is concerned with three issues: global sports and nationalism/nation-states, global sports and national identity, and fans in an online community. First, using the experiences of Korean baseball fans as an exemplary case, this dissertation examines the issue of identity in a global era vis-à-vis the changing status of nationalism and the nation-states. Korean nationalism and the Korean government are still key influences in reconstituting the identities of Korean MLB fans. Particularly, mass media representations of MLB provided examples of national individuals as models for the altered nationalism of the late 1990s. Secondly, this dissertation investigates how the global sports are embedded in (re)constituting national identity among local people, and then how national identity has been transformed in this process. It focuses on global sports as a key element in national identity, the presence of national sentiment in MLB fandom in South Korea, and the transformation of “the structures of the national” among Korean MLB fans. Third, this dissertation examines an online community and its members, who are no longer limited to a geographical place but rather connect to each other based on common interest.
Conclusively, I suggest the term “individuated nationalism” to explain the complicated merging of the national with the idea of individuality. The notion of individuated nationalism implies that, in South Korea, nationalism is embedded in people’s everyday lives, but it is chosen as a personal taste or even rationalized and justified as an identity rather than embraced as a moral imperative or ideological manipulation. Korean MLB fans utilize their national fandom as a source of individual identity based on personal experiences, memories, and the circumstances in which they consume MLB.
0708: Mass media