Recent studies of cultural intermediaries demonstrate that economic activity in even the most rationalized organizations and industries is thoroughly cultural. However, they may not do justice to contexts where production and mediation are embedded in communities with distinctive traditions and aesthetic standards. This article offers an ethnographically informed account of intermediaries working within one such context: namely, the organizations and stores composing the 'nerd-culture scene' in a Canadian city. Retailers and group organizers enable geeky cultural practices by providing spaces where individuals can develop their interests and hobbies. Their labour is analysed in terms of their subcultural careers, gatekeeping functions within the scene and dispositions towards the 'mainstream'. They are not simply economic agents but also culturally and socially situated actors motivated to do this work for its intrinsic rewards. Subcultural scenes cut across industrial sectors and cultural industries, making them a special context for the work of cultural intermediaries.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Comic bookstore, cultural intermediaries, cultural scenes, game stores, geek culture, nerd culture, practice theory, qualitative methods, subcultures
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1177/1367549412445758
Journal European Journal of Cultural Studies
Citation
Woo, B. (2012). Alpha nerds: Cultural intermediaries in a subcultural scene. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(5), 659–676. doi:10.1177/1367549412445758