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A Filipino Carat made SEVENTEEN his thesis subject—here are his most important findings

By Melanie Uson Published Feb 17, 2024 6:11 pm

How far can you go in stanning your favorite group? A Filipino Carat just made a full research output about being a fan of much-loved K-pop act SEVENTEEN

Raymart Rodriguez, a sociology student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, has been a SEVENTEEN lover since he discovered them in a Korean variety show in 2017. "The group amazed me because the music was two times faster, but they still danced with synchronization," he told PhilSTAR L!fe.

He went on to follow the group from their music and guest appearances, to fan-made videos that helped familiarize himself better with all 13 members of the group: Vernon, Jeonghan, Dino, S.Coups, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, The8, Seungkwan, and Mingyu.  

“I became their fan not just because of their talents and songs but also because of their humorous and entertaining [content],” he said.

Later on, SEVENTEEN did not only entertain him, but also inspired him to make them his thesis subject, exploring what it's like to be a Filipino Carat.

L!fe got to know more about Rodriguez's thesis titled Slipping into the Diamond Life: Filipino Carats’ Identity and Meaning as Fans of the K-pop boy group SEVENTEEN in an online interview, where he shared his most important findings as well as how he pulled it off.

Why did you choose Seventeen and Filipino Carats as your thesis topic? 

After a year in the BA Sociology Program of UPLB, I started thinking about what topic I should do for my thesis. As a K-pop fan, there were a few times that I made K-pop and K-pop fans as topics for my requirements in some of the courses I took. And when the time came that we had to start conceptualizing our thesis topic, I chose them because they are very close to my heart. 

What were some of the most important findings in your thesis? 

The main findings of my study focused on the four elements of the essence of the fan experience of Filipino Carats. These included the types of Filipino Carats, activities, group identity, and meaning. The types of Filipino Carats were based on how they identify themselves and how they view other Filipino Carats based on their experiences and interactions with them.

These types were divided into three categories. The first category is the types of Filipino Carats based on their age and or the time when they became a fan of SEVENTEEN. This category includes Baby Carats, Fossil/Granny/Old Carats, Adult/Mature Carats, and the Pandemic Carats. The second category is based on the Filipino Carats’ activities as fans of Seventeen which includes the following: AU (Alternate Universe) - Reading Carats, BNS (Buy and Sell) Carats, Update/Information-Giving Carats, Chill, Low-key, and Inactive Carats, and Cubics. Cubics are considered to be independent from Carats (Carats: fans of Seventeen; Cubics: fans of their variety show, Going Seventeen) but it is possible that a Cubic is also a Carat. The last category is based on their bias or the number of groups they support. There are Solo Member Stans, Solo Group Stans, OT13 Stans, and Multi-stans.

Raymart Rodriguez's thesis about being a fan of K-pop group SEVENTEEN

The second element is all about Filipino Carats’ activities as fans—the things they do depending on their availability, money, location, and access to various social media applications. As fans, they [make] their ticket purchases online and on-site. They also [go] camping or stay outside mall hours before the start of ticket-selling. Attending SEVENTEEN's concerts, which can be in-person and online, is also an activity they do. They can also be "Team Labas" or be outside the concert venue during the concert. This way, they are still able to participate as fans of SEVENTEEN. They also interact with posts that are related to the group on various social media platforms.

My research found that they also take part in online voting, subscribe to online music platforms, and stream their music and music videos. They also receive, purchase, and sell SEVENTEEN's official and unofficial merchandise. As fans, they also attend and participate in the events organized by their co-Carats.

The third element enumerates how Filipino Carats express their identity as fans through their language, relationship with others, purchase intention and behavior, fashion, and support for their co-Carats and the group. In terms of language, Filipino Carats express their identity by sharing SEVENTEEN's memes and applying actions, quotes, and mannerisms of its members.

They also do some things only with their friends, influence other people, and establish friendships with them. In relation [to] their purchase intention and behavior, Filipino Carats buy the official light stick or the Carat Bong, consider being a Carat as costly and time-consuming, save money and be frugal, and get influenced by SEVENTEEN's official colors, rose quartz and serenity.

K-pop boy group SEVENTEEN

Lastly, in terms of fashion, my thesis showed that Filipino Carats consider SEVENTEEN as their inspiration.

The last element is all about the meanings made by Filipino Carats as fans of SEVENTEEN. For them, being one is a form of escape from reality and a part of their lives and who they are. They also view the group as an inspiration to explore more about oneself, as models for expressing oneself, and as one of their sources of comfort and stress relief. For them, being a Filipino Carat is a way to connect with other people and establish deep connections, as well as having a unique relationship with their fellow fans.

Filipino Carats perform their identities as fans to establish an impression of who and what kind of people and fans they are. Filipino Carats have types which can be based on their age or the time they became a fan, on their activities, and their biases or the number of groups they support. As fans, they do various activities [that] depend on the time they have, money, proximity to the location of events, and access to various social media platforms and applications. Through their activities, experiences, and interactions with SEVENTEEN and their co-Carats, they were able to form meanings about the group and also themselves as fans.

How did your thesis adviser and department react when they knew about your chosen topic? 

They were very supportive. When I presented my thesis, I really felt the support of the members of the faculty of our department, Department of Social Sciences (DSS), through their comments and suggestions. My thesis adviser, Asst. Prof. Athenee Pacardo-Mercado, was also very helpful throughout the completion of my thesis.  

How did you pull off this thesis topic?

I was able to pull off this topic because of Filipino Carats’ support not just for SEVENTEEN but also for my thesis. When I was looking for participants, there were a lot of Filipino Carats who expressed their interest in participating in my study. It made me realize that this is also very important to them. (with reports from John Patrick Ranara)