Graduate Program

Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Thesis Director

S. M. Walus

Thesis Committee Member

Nora L. Heist

Thesis Committee Member

Josh Grube


Shifting genres is not an entirely new concept for any celebrity, however, it is something that can severely impact the connection that they share with their audience members who have formed parasocial relationships with them. This study which focuses on the uses and gratifications within the parasocial connection between audience members and musician celebrities sought out to better understand how negotiations are conducted when expectations placed on the relationship are violated during a shift in celebrity persona. During this time, there are competing ideologies at play which determine whether or not this change in the foundations of the relationship will be accepted or rejected. Data was collected through a corpus linguistic approach by using popular social media (e.g., reddit, YouTube, Metacritic) outlets that were open spaces for members to share their thoughts and opinions of the shifts as they were occurring. The results of this study identify specific concerns that are raised by audience members when there is a major shift in celebrity persona, and how these concerns are used to determine whether or not the relationship will be terminated. Results showed that one of the main concerns presented by those involved in the parasocial relationship during transition was the level of averageness that the celebrity figures continued to portray after the shift; specifically, how relatable and acceptable they were deemed by audience members based on personal preferences. Understanding these strategies may potentially offer celebrities of all types insight on how to better conduct an alternative career shift and retain more of their prior fanbases in the future.

Included in

Communication Commons