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Young people's interpretations of Dutch soap operas and police series: a multicultural audience research
Unformatted Document Text:  Young people’s interpretations of Dutch soap operas and police series: a multicultural audience research 4 Gillespie (1995) studied the role ethnic background plays in watching soaps for young people in particular. She conducted an ethnographic study on the manners in which young people of Punjabi descent in the London suburb of Southall watch television. The young people she spoke with actively negotiated between their own identities and the story lines of Neighbours, a soap of Australian origin. Their ethnicity played a major role in those negotiations. Some youths decided, with reference to the norms held in Neighbours, to focus primarily on the values of their ‘own’ culture, while other youths made ‘translations’ between their culture and the soap. Those translations were especially evident in discussing relations between characters in Neighbours, which the youngsters compared to relationships in their own environment. Neighbours played a role in formulating wishes and ideals, such as the wish that, within social relations, people interact in a respectful manner. Neighbours is a ‘white’ soap, and therefore theoretically has no direct bearing on the experiences of English youths with a Punjabi background. The girls and boys interviewed by Gillespie did state that within ‘their’ culture other rules, expectations, norms and values apply than those in the soap Neighbours. One difference they mentioned was that young characters in Neighbours are often allowed to make their own decisions and interact with their parents on a relatively equal footing. Youngsters in Southall particularly valued such relations among family members, and used these to judge their own family relations by, thereby cautiously formulating criticism. Barker (1999) argues that in interpreting soap operas ethnicity does play a role, but so do other identities. He studied the meaning of soaps that are broadcast in Great Britain for the construction of cultural identities by British Asian and Afro-Caribbean girls. His conclusion is that conceptions of ethnicity as identity were cross-cut by questions of class, gender, sexuality and morality. Which identity was prevalent depended on which character girls were talking about. When they talked about a lesbian character girls explored their sexual identity, when they talked about their favourite characters gender turned out to be decisive. Ethnicity played

Authors: de Bruin, Joost.
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Young people’s interpretations of Dutch soap operas and police series: a multicultural audience research
4
Gillespie (1995) studied the role ethnic background plays in watching soaps for young
people in particular. She conducted an ethnographic study on the manners in which young
people of Punjabi descent in the London suburb of Southall watch television. The young
people she spoke with actively negotiated between their own identities and the story lines of
Neighbours, a soap of Australian origin. Their ethnicity played a major role in those
negotiations. Some youths decided, with reference to the norms held in Neighbours, to focus
primarily on the values of their ‘own’ culture, while other youths made ‘translations’ between
their culture and the soap. Those translations were especially evident in discussing relations
between characters in Neighbours, which the youngsters compared to relationships in their
own environment. Neighbours played a role in formulating wishes and ideals, such as the
wish that, within social relations, people interact in a respectful manner. Neighbours is a
‘white’ soap, and therefore theoretically has no direct bearing on the experiences of English
youths with a Punjabi background. The girls and boys interviewed by Gillespie did state that
within ‘their’ culture other rules, expectations, norms and values apply than those in the soap
Neighbours. One difference they mentioned was that young characters in Neighbours are
often allowed to make their own decisions and interact with their parents on a relatively equal
footing. Youngsters in Southall particularly valued such relations among family members, and
used these to judge their own family relations by, thereby cautiously formulating criticism.
Barker (1999) argues that in interpreting soap operas ethnicity does play a role, but so
do other identities. He studied the meaning of soaps that are broadcast in Great Britain for the
construction of cultural identities by British Asian and Afro-Caribbean girls. His conclusion is
that conceptions of ethnicity as identity were cross-cut by questions of class, gender, sexuality
and morality. Which identity was prevalent depended on which character girls were talking
about. When they talked about a lesbian character girls explored their sexual identity, when
they talked about their favourite characters gender turned out to be decisive. Ethnicity played


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