Anthropology of Star Trek Fandom Survey -- The Results Are In!
Throughout 2010 I had set out to collect data on Star Trek fans in order to better understand this often misunderstood, misrepresented culture. The purpose behind creating this fairly comprehensive survey was to gather data for the forthcoming book, Anthropology of Star Trek. The book is a text that mirrors my original course of the same name, an introduction to cultural anthropology with a Star Trek theme. The book, like the course, contains a chapter on fandom. In addition to the papers contributed by both fans and professionals, the fandom chapter contains a brief ethnographic analysis of fandom based on the data provided by this survey. Questions included asking fans to rate their level of involvement in fandom, to what extent Trek influenced career or educational decisions or daily lives in general, how fans define the culture of fandom, the ways in which fans perceive of Trek, defining fandom ideology, asking fans why Trek, and about the need for Star Trek in the world today. Basic demographics were also collected. A total of 5,041 individuals participated. Many thanks go out to all who took part both in the survey and in getting the word out about this survey, and to those who have continued to assist me in working on the data.
Some interesting results of note
(many questions asked fans to define or explain selections, and that information has also been included in the final write up)
- 67% stated that given the finances, they would be far more involved.
- Fans felt that more involved was directly related to how much merchandise someone collected, costuming, and how many conventions a fan attends in a year.
- Overwhelmingly, 82% considered themselves to be average to below average in terms of involvement, while 18% went all out to go into elaborate detail about how extremely involved they were as fans.
- All fans were quite humble about their own levels of participation and always felt someone else was far more involved than they were.
- A whopping 79% responded that they participated because of the ideals of Star Trek and the bonding such ideals created with friends and within fandom overall, that they felt a stronger attraction to the messages of community and activism or to fandom culture over the Trek franchise.
- There was a wide range of responses to how fans chose to express themselves, how they felt Star Trek influenced or impacted them, and how they felt they fit as a member of this culture.
- IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations) was the primary ideological choice – selected by 51% of fans, with Humanism and Christianity not too far behind.
- Not surprising , perhaps, “Trekkie” was the term of choice with respect to fan identity by 43% of those responding.
- Much surfaced as to how fans define their Trek, or canon.
- Females : 57% Males 43% , primarily single, over 40, and fairly well educated – all results from some of the basic demographics.
A quote that best summed up much of this:
(In response to: Does the world still need Star Trek?)
“I think the world will always need Star Trek as an example of what a better world will be and what we can do as individuals to further the dream. I think there are very few humans who believe we are alone in the universe and we hope the First Contact will lead to that dream. I think the talents of the writers of science fiction from Isaac Assimov to Harlon Ellison, Ray Bradberry combined with the vision of Gene Rodenberry have opened our minds and hearts to individual responsibilty, cultural morality and technical achievements.”
Star Trek fans span the globe and span every walk of life, every age group, and every mainstream cultural or ethnic group. Star Trek fandom is a phenomenon like no other, it has been going strong nearly 45 years, and is certain to continue for many more. Starting with the first letter writing campaign to save the original series, fans have always been inspired to take action. Their inspiration? Why Star Trek of course! As made clear throughout this survey, fans are educated, informed, and active citizens. They have taken the meanings in Star Trek and have applied them in mainstream culture. They have certainly individualized the myth, but share a group ideology that binds fandom together, and across cultural lines. Star Trek fans are by their own definition open minded, community oriented, and accepting people. They may not always agree on what Star Trek is or what terms they prefer to identify one another, but this only adds to the diversity within the group, and it certainly is diverse.
Do check out the survey data in full and also look for me at conventions across the US during 2011 and 2012. The new book will be out by May 2011, and great new news to announce, this survey for the short chapter on fandom has spawned new research. I have been asked to collect fandom data over the next year and a half and write a second book, Ethnography of Star Trek Fandom. Consent forms and information about the book and fan participation in this project will be available through me at conventions, via email, and on my sites. Huge thank you again to all who have been supportive and have participated in some way in all of my work! Much appreciated.
Links to the survey and the new research on fandom:
- Survey data -
- New fandom research - http://independent.academia.edu/DarylFrazetti/Papers/457607/Flier_Trek_Fandom_Research_and_Ethnogrophy_of_Trek_Fandom_book_info
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional note from Captain Pyke:
Daryl is also teaching an "Anthropology of Scifi" course at Cal State Channel Islands Campus in Camarillo this summer. Check out the details below.
ENGL 1037-1 Lec 2133
Anthropology of SCIFI (Lecture)
Saturday 10am -12 noon - Thousand Oaks Room 2
June 18, 2011.