Readers and their roles: Evidence from readers of contemporary fiction in the Netherlands

Reading serves many ends. Some readers report that works of fiction provide an imaginative escape from the rigors of life, others report reading in order to be intellectually challenged. While various characterizations of readers’ engagement with prose fiction have been proposed, few have been checked using representative samples of readers. Our research reports on reader self-descriptions observed in a representative sample of 501 adults in the Netherlands. Reader self-descriptions exhibit regularities, with certain self-descriptions predicting others. Contrary to existing theories which posit two types of readers characterized by non-overlapping concerns (identifying readers and distanced readers), we find that while some readers attend to plot structure or read in order to be intellectually challenged, reader self-descriptions overlap more than received theories predict. We hypothesize that some readers have cultivated more reading techniques than others, with educated or experienced readers tending to report deriving additional experiences from reading.

Publication Date:
Jul 26 2018
Date Submitted:
Jun 28 2019
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 Record created 2019-06-28, last modified 2019-07-24

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