"You Are All Loved so Much": Exploring Relational Maintenance Within the Context of Parasocial Relationships

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Abstract

This research explores relational maintenance within the context of parasocial relationships. The New Kids on the Block (NKOTB), one of the most popular musical groups in the late 1980s and early 1990s, abruptly disbanded in 1994. In 2008, after a 14-year hiatus, the band announced their reformation. Members of NKOTB blogged about their reunion on the group's website (www.nkotb.com), and a thematic analysis was conducted, using both deductive and inductive procedures, of 2,122 postings by audience members to these blog entries. Analysis revealed that audience members utilized, in various ways, both positivity and assurance maintenance strategies (Canary, Stafford, Hause, & Wallace, 1993). The results suggest that audience members enacted relational maintenance to express support for NKOTB and to demonstrate that they had remained committed to their parasocial relationship with NKOTB, despite the group's absence. These actions positively reinforced NKOTB's decision to reunite and conveyed fans' desire for NKOTB's return to be permanent. Thus, similar to actual social relationships, relational maintenance also functions within parasocial relationships and merits further research attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-182
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Media Psychology
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Keywords

  • New Kids on the Block
  • PSR
  • blogs
  • commitment
  • relational maintenance

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