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Online communities serving the consumer/producer: observations from the study of a fantasy world

Christele Boulaire (Laval University, Quebec, Canada)
Raoul Graf (Laval University, Quebec, Canada)
Raja Guelmami (Laval University, Quebec, Canada)

Direct Marketing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1750-5933

Article publication date: 17 October 2008




The purpose of this paper is to identify the main individual and collective strategies online communities employ to appropriate fantasy worlds and the ways in which community members use imagination within this context.


A qualitative study drawing on an ethnography of online communities including individual in‐person interviews with community members of the world is considered.


The predominance and the vital importance of the production/consumption of stories within these communities has been shown. The multiple benefits of this practice have been illustrated, including the pleasure of creating and playing with one's imagination. These benefits engender the surprise and enchantment of community members, who lavish other members with encouragement, congratulations and thanks.

Research limitations/implications

Because of opting for a non‐participatory ethnography, it was impossible to directly contact the members of the community to conduct interviews. Thus a convenience sample was chosen representative of the study subject and individuals outside of these communities were questioned.


The online community allows members to collectively and playfully participate in entertainment related to the fantasy world. It appears as an imaginary organization of the (entertainment) service provider. The members of this organization can take part in value coproduction and share the benefits of an extended entertainment service that sparks their imagination and allows them to enjoy the fruits of their creations. Given the fantasy world's power to fire the imagination of fantasy lovers, the paper demonstrates that it is important for leisure and entertainment service providers to consider adding a fantasy component to their service.



Boulaire, C., Graf, R. and Guelmami, R. (2008), "Online communities serving the consumer/producer: observations from the study of a fantasy world", Direct Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 199-220.



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