The Macintosh Professionals: A Masters Thesis on Apple, Fandom and Professionalism

I’m pleased to say that I have completed, defended and posted my Master’s Thesis. That means I’m a few short weeks away from having an M.A. in Moving Image Studies.

My thesis examines the fraught dynamic between Apple and its fan base during the late 2010s. It demonstrates how a successful activism campaign can encourage corporations to take reparative actions.

It was inspired, in large part, by discussions I listened to on Upgrade and the Accidental Tech Podcast when I first moved to Atlanta in 2016. Checking with the Apple fandom each week and getting to know the hosts of these podcasts in a parasocial format helped me bridge the gap as I built out a network of friends and colleagues in a new city. Now all of that time listening while sitting in traffic has paid off.

If you’re academically minded or an avid Mac user I hope you’ll glean some useful insights from my research. If you just need a good long read for a Saturday afternoon I hope it is at least entertaining.

You can download and read the full paper for free via Scholarworks @ Georgia State University.

The abstract is below, in case you just want a taste:

This thesis uses industrial discourse analysis and fan studies to posit that fandom has the power to intervene in moments when producers and brands thwart expectations generated by industrial lore. Steve Jobs’ “Four Quadrants” strategy became a crucial piece of Apple’s industrial lore is shown to influence the expectations of Apple fans. Negative fan reactions to new product launches will be used to demonstrate the impact of said lore and the openings it creates for dissent. Analysis of the industrial discourse surrounding the discontinued iMac Pro and redesigned Mac Pro determines the efficacy of fan interventions in eliciting a concession from Apple.