Fans takes the reader on a journey through a constellation of fandoms, and along the way demonstrates some fundamental truths about the human condition. Part behavioural study, part entertainment, at its heart the book is a story of collectives, of what happens to us when we interact with people who share our passions. The human brain is wired to reach out, and while our groupish tendencies can bring much strife (religious intolerance, racism, war, etc.), they are also the source of some of our greatest satisfactions.
Fandoms offer much of the pleasure of tribalism with little of the harm: a feeling of belonging and of shared culture, a sense of meaning and purpose, improved mental well-being, reassurance that our most outlandish convictions will be taken seriously, and the freedom to try to emulate (and dress like) our hero.
In Fans, Michael Bond explores the subject through the lens of social identity theory, a set of ideas used by social psychologists and anthropologists to understand how people behave in groups and why groups have such a profound effect on human culture.