Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Emily West

Second Advisor

Anne Ciecko

Third Advisor

Jarice Hanson

Fourth Advisor

Amy Schalet

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Communication Technology and New Media | Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Leisure Studies | Social Media | Sociology of Culture | Sports Studies


This dissertation explores the Chinese fandom of European male football and its relation to the formation of the Chinese urban middle class. I use online and offline ethnography, critical discourse analysis and textual analysis to examine the socio-cultural roots, technological conditions, and political implications of Chinese fans’ transmedia practices. My findings are twofold. First, I argue for the articulation between the European football fan identity and the subject of urban middle class emerging from the post-Maoist social restructuring. This articulation is reflected from these fans’ active reading of the European football text and their access to European football as conditioned by social positions. Second, in the examination of fans’ appropriation of digital media in televised spectatorship, community building, and online deliberations, I analyze the individualistic nature of these fans’ collectivity enabled by digital fan practices and how this individualistic virtual collectivity has limitations in terms of further power struggles and political actions. I conclude that localized digital technologies facilitating European football fans’ virtual collectivity around and progressive interpretation of a transnational text are themselves part of China’s state project of authoritarian digital capitalism that articulates neoliberal individualism and authoritarianism through technological revolution.