Sports Fans: A Phenomenological Study of Affective Sharedness

Building on an affective turn in various disciplines, the project aims at understanding the relationality of our affective life with a special focus on the forms of affective sharedness. It considers sports audiences (e.g. the various kinds of spectators of major football events) as relevant and informative examples for the way in which affective states are experienced as shared with others. The project will investigate, differentiate, and clarify the forms of affective sharedness in the domain of sports fandom, by drawing on phenomenological insights from early phenomenologists and discussing them in the context of current philosophy of emotion.

The main research questions are: (1.) What modes, types, and degrees of affective sharing can be found in sports fans? (2.) What kinds of communities are involved in their shaping? (3.) To what extent does fandom enable qualitatively new forms of affective states? (3a.) Does membership of a fan community form a basis on which individuals experience qualitatively new forms of individual affective states? (3b.) Are there cases in which the fan community itself is the phenomenological subject of affective states that are only possible as collective experiences?

The project brings together three research approaches that have not been in much of a dialog so far: a concern based account of human affectivity to be found in contemporary philosophy of emotions; works by the early phenomenologist Max Scheler, Edith Stein und Gerda Walther regarding affective sharing; and sociological research on sports fans. To achieve this, a methodological triangulation will be employed: the aim is a research process in which conceptual work on the basis of current philosophy of emotion, phenomenological analysis of the intentional structures of affective sharing, and empirical research on kinds of affective resonance offered by sociological research partners, mutually challenge and correct each other.