Football fandom, glocalisation and the ‘Man United in Pidgin’ Twitter community: a study of the glocal village created through the social media practices of aTwitter account dedicated to West African Manchester United Football Club’s fans

Mbassi Elong, Wally Shannon (2023) Football fandom, glocalisation and the ‘Man United in Pidgin’ Twitter community: a study of the glocal village created through the social media practices of aTwitter account dedicated to West African Manchester United Football Club’s fans. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

This thesis on ‘Man United In Pidgin’s (MUIP’s) Twitter account discusses how the glocalisation of ManchesterUnited Football Club (MUFC) made possible via that account assists the construction of a postcolonial WestAfrican masculine online identity or fandom. MUIP is an unofficial MUFC’s social media fan account created bya Nigerian fan of MUFC that provides readers with the team’s news updates in Pidgin English, a lingua francaspoken in many West African countries. In this thesis, the concept of West Africa mainly refers to West Africancountries where West African Pidgin English is spoken (Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, andEquatorial Guinea). Thus, this study addresses two questions: which discursive features do MUIP’s tweetsemploy? In what ways do these features help create a West African online identity among MUIP’s followers? Adiscourse analysis of 107 MUIP’s tweets and readers’ replies to these tweets is used as the principal method toinvestigate these questions. An interview with the founder of MUIP and an online survey assessing MUIP’sfollowers on Twitter also provide some preliminary production and consumption contexts to this discourseanalysis. This research predominantly addresses the relation between media or cultural texts and identityconstruction, looking at how West African MUFC’s consumers, through the MUIP community, resist to andrework Western media coverage of MUFC and Premier League Football to produce new forms of meanings. Itexamines what is produced by the MUIP community, how it is produced, what it means, which groups of peopleit represents, and how MUIP’s audience interpret MUIP’s texts. Through a discourse analysis of the MUIPcommunity’s tweets, this thesis engages with some West African systems of knowledge and unpacks theirmeanings’ construction. The discourse analysis indicates that MUIP’s content creator, and to an extent MUIP’saudience, mainly give meanings to their utterances via personal pronouns (‘we/us’ or ‘una’) and figures of speech(humour, metaphors, and rhetorical questions). MUIP’s followers build twenty-seven semantic networks inresponse to the main MUIP’s tweets analysed. The reality constructed by MUIP’s tweets for the readers are mainlythose of information and entertainment. This thesis concludes that this account enables its founder to create asense of belonging to a Nigerian and West African imagined cyber community within his online community andan environment similar to Football Viewing Centres, thereby creating virtual stadiums that entertain, inform, andfoster socialisation. This thesis’ findings contribute to discovering how football is covered and followed on socialnetworking sites in Nigeria and West Africa. New insights are provided by investigating how the participatoryculture enabled by this account via the involvement of its readers in content creation is producing, shaping, andexposing a West African masculine online identity. The account’s author and readers perform identities which aredecentred, multiple, and sometimes fragmented between numerous shades of local cultural characteristics and
iiivarious global cultural ones. This thesis builds on McLuhan’s (1962, 1964) concept of ‘global village’ and arguesthat while the global media reach of the English Premier League and MUFC has created a global village, thatvillage consists of a series of ‘glocal villages’ with unique and specific (cultural) characteristics – MUIP is anexample of such villages. This thesis also builds on Igwe et al. (2021) idea that the glocalisation of EuropeanFootball Leagues in Nigeria creates a sense of communal belonging for those watching these leagues’ matches atFootball Viewing Centres by highlighting the discursive practices creating that sense of belonging to a commoncultural identity. Besides, while Igwe et al. conducted an offline investigation of such glocalisation, this thesisinvestigates the glocalisation of MUFC fandom within a West African online community thereby addressing theconcern raised by Onyebueke (2018) that the study of online football fandom in West Africa is significantlyoverlooked. Ultimately, this thesis builds on postcolonial theorists’ contentions that there is a profound globalinequity in how frameworks of knowledge and understanding are defined (Young, 2020). Academic research oftenprioritises the experiences of Western Europeans and North Americans, and their views of the rest of the world.This research is an investigation by a West African of an online community that matters to West Africans. Itinvestigates this global football industry transformed within a West African context and invested with newmeanings that re-assert a distinctive West African identity

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Twitter account; Glocalisation; Football fandom; Manchester United Football Club (MUFC); Pidgin
Subjects: 300 Social sciences
300 Social sciences > 380 Commerce, communications & transportation
Department: School of Computing and Digital Media
Depositing User: Chiara Repetto
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2023 11:28
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2023 11:28


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