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Mainstreams, Mavericks, Misfits, and Amphibians: On the Mainstreaming, Platformisation, and Re-conventionalisation of the Former Home of Chinese ACGN

Tingting Liu, Xizi Chen and and Zequ Lin
p. 75-86

Abstract

The concept of platformisation has been used throughout contemporary Chinese sociology and media studies to explain the process by which emerging local digital platforms facilitate and revolutionise daily life. Scholars have also examined how fans of ACGN (anime, comics, games, and novels) create heterotopias through the development of virtual communities and the departure of online territory from more conventional cultural and heteronormative norms. This article analyses an often-overlooked subject: the mainstreaming, platformisation, and re-conventionalisation of digital platforms and their impact on creative video production and fandom culture. We investigate Bilibili, a video-sharing social media which can be considered as the former home of Chinese ACGN culture, with a particular focus on the current commercial expansion that has seen it deviate from ACGN’s cultural themes. Howard Becker’s (1982) categorisation of innovative creators (mainstreams, mavericks, misfits) and Jones et al. amphibians are utilised to examine the ways in which the various video creators and former ACGN fans have (or have not) adapted to the platform’s commercialisation, mainstreaming, and re-conventionalisation.

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Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 5 February 2023. Accepted on 9 September 2023.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on March 2025.

Outline

Introduction
Literature review
Background: Chinese ACGN fandom and Bilibili
Theoretical framework: Categorisation of different innovative creators
Research methods
The commercialisation and data-isation of Bilibili
A new landscape of mainstreams, mavericks, misfits, and amphibians
Mainstreams: Copyrighted, and patriotic videos
Mavericks: Innovative and commercial newcomers
Amphibians: ACGN video creators adapting to mainstream commercialisation
ACGN hardcore fans becoming the misfits and their forced migration
Conclusion

First lines

Introduction

The global influence of various digital platforms and their component tools, frameworks, and algorithmic logic, as well as the expansion of data science, has become a topic of considerable research. Previous studies have suggested that digital platforms serve as technological architectures, playing a key role in the transition from two-sided market systems to complex multisided platform arrangements (Nieborg and Poell 2018; Nieborg and Helmond 2019). Nieborg and Helmond (2018: 4275) understand this transitional process as platformisation: “the penetration of economic and infrastructural extensions of online platforms into the web, affecting the production, distribution, and circulation of cultural content.”

Fandom culture is influenced by the platformisation of cultural production. The participatory nature of digital fandom, the process of presumption, the progressive elements of digital fandom (e.g., Generation Z vibe, feminist themes, and LGBT-friendly spirit), and fan...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Tingting Liu, Xizi Chen and and Zequ Lin, “Mainstreams, Mavericks, Misfits, and Amphibians: On the Mainstreaming, Platformisation, and Re-conventionalisation of the Former Home of Chinese ACGN”China Perspectives, 136 | 2024, 75-86.

Electronic reference

Tingting Liu, Xizi Chen and and Zequ Lin, “Mainstreams, Mavericks, Misfits, and Amphibians: On the Mainstreaming, Platformisation, and Re-conventionalisation of the Former Home of Chinese ACGN”China Perspectives [Online], 136 | 2024, Online since 01 March 2025, connection on 14 April 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/16627; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.16627

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Copyright

The text and other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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