Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

PhD Defence Vlada Botoric

Adult fans of LEGO in the branded participatory playground: A theoretical and empirical study

2019.01.14 | Tina Pabst

Date Fri 08 Feb
Time 12:30 15:30
Location The small Auditorium, Incuba Science Park, Building 5510, Room 104, Aabogade 15, Aarhus N

Friday 8 February 2019 at 12.30 PM Vlada Botoric, MSc, will be defending his dissertation


School of Communication and Culture,

The small Auditorium, Incuba Science Park,

Building 5510, Room 104,

Aabogade 15, Aarhus N.


Assessment committee:  

Matt Hills, Professor of Media and Film, Department of Media, Journalism and Film, University of Huddersfield, UK

Thessa Jensen, Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Psychology, InDiMedia, Aalborg University, DK

Susanne Eichner, Associate Professor, School of Communication and Culture, Media Studies, Aarhus University, DK (Chair)



Christian Ulrik Andersen, Associate Professor, School of Communication and Culture, Department of Digital Design and Information Studies, Aarhus University  


Anne Marit Waade, Associate Professor, School of Communication and Culture, Media Studies, Aarhus University

The defence is public, and everybody is wel-come; the defence, scheduled for a maxi-mum of three hours, will be held in English.

The dissertation is available for reading on location at this address:

School of Communication and Culture

Department of Digital Design and Information Studies

Building 5347, Helsingforsgade 14, Aarhus N

Abstract (in English)

LEGO as a trans-generational multimedia empire attracts children and adults of

all ages and professions. LEGO fan base is one of the most active in the world.

In the case of adult LEGO fandom and the productive practices that result from

it, we know little about how fans perceive their own creative expressions,

whether these are of pure hedonistic experience or they have some objective

ends. Fans in general are characterized by a strong ethos of sharing, learning

and creativity, rather than desire for promotion or money earning. My idea was

to find out more about motives of the adult fans of LEGO since they have been

increasingly savvy recently about the value created through their practices and

engagement. Creative and innovative capacity of powerful army of AFOLs (Adult

Fans of LEGO) towards self-organization, along with knowledge and skill they

demonstrate in their creations, I understand as the very source of value. The

affective proximity that AFOLs have developed and nurtured over decades is one

of the most important elements that generates value.

Although existing research points socially recognized self-realization as primary

motivation for fans that create, innovate, collaborate and share for the intrinsic

pleasures, I refine existing research and suggest that AFOLs have multiple roles

in the process of value creation, because they act as creators and beneficiaries

at the same time by creating value for themselves, for their community and for

the company. I am suggesting that business models have found yet another way

to expand in order to impact fan base and to influence their future fandom

activities and performance.

I have been a passionate LEGO collector and participant observer of the LEGO

phenomenon for all my life, reflexive nature characterizes my account. I selfconsciously

discuss my own fandom experience in order to position myself as a

researcher and expose privileges and biases. Therefore, I identify myself as an

aca-fan (academic fan), as a researcher who is a member of both the academic

and the fan community, overlapping the existence of these communities. The

data set from my empirical analysis comes from my empirical research that

includes fieldwork: interviews during fan events, focus group and research visit

to the LEGO House; online sources, both administered by the LEGO Group and

fan-based online sources; my own experience, auto-ethnographic accounts as a

LEGO aca-fan.

PhD defence, Afd. for Digital Design og Informationsvidenskab