Choosing zines : defining the constructs that influence the decision to participate in the practice of zine-making in the digital age
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Zines are a unique, small circulation, print based medium that have been in existence for over eighty years. They have survived and some would argue flourished in an environment of participatory social media and declining print circulation. Zine-making is a contradictory, lo-fi, do-it-yourself media-making practice, rich in parallel research traditions and historical engagements across many vocal creative and social communities. This study investigated the constructs that influenced the decision to choose to make zines in the digital age. Drawing on thirty-four semi-structured email interviews, conducted between 2011 and 2015, the study interrogated and defined the motivations of individuals to participate in zine-making. Using a constructivist grounded theory inquiry, a theoretical model was developed from the responses that located the activities undertaken to make a zine within a four-stage model of zine-making participation processes. The study argued that these stages were not enacted sequentially or discretely, but coalesced into liminal spaces that shaped the aspirational and attitudinal aesthetics of zines. It is within these liminal spaces that zine-makers defined and shared their own understanding of what they were choosing to participate in. Zine-makers, by constructing and sharing meaning and their identity through zine-making, became part of a bounded but fragile communitas of makers and readers, where small sub-spaces intersect to form semi-private spaces defined by an almost infinite combination of geographical locations, socio-cultural influences, digital technology and social media practices, interests, types of making, attitudes and beliefs, lived experiences and audiences. Finally, the study locates the impacts, influences and transformative effects of digital technology and social media practices on the decision to make zines.
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