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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 5 a major role when Asian and black people in the soaps were discussed. For example, some British Asian girls criticised the way Lahta, a British Asian female character, dated with boyfriends. They stated that in real life – and probably in their real life – a British Asian girl could never behave like that. In their opinion the dating storyline was unrealistic. What the aforementioned studies have in common, is that they focus on processes of identity construction and reconstruction. When young people offset soap characters’ identities to their own daily experiences, they are actively shaping their identities – or maybe in fact crossing cultural borders. Talking about soap operas according to Gillespie is “a major forum for contest and debate over ‘old’ and ‘new’ identities” (Gillespie, 1995: 24). The studies also have in common that they focus on the interpretation of ethnic minority viewers. There is not much research into the role ethnicity plays for white people in interpreting soap operas. A pilot study for the present research has shown that when white young people talk about Dutch soaps, ethnicity only plays a role when they are talking about ethnic minority characters. In general, white Dutch youngsters did not seem to notice the ethnicity of these characters, but sometimes they mentioned they were interested in the storylines that focussed on ‘other’ – that is, ethnic minority – cultures (Costera Meijer & De Bruin, fortcoming). For unclear reasons, there is hardly any audience research on police series. This seems strange, since police series like soaps are a genre that draws television audiences worldwide. Thus, we do not know what role police series could play in processes of identity formation of young people with different ethnic backgrounds. This is an interesting topic to study, because Dutch police series have shown to be quite sophisticated in portraying ethnic minorities. They include people from a whole range of ethnicities and thereby make visible that ethnicity is always cross-cut by other identities such as age, gender or class (De Bruin, 2002).

Authors: de Bruin, Joost.
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Young people’s interpretations of Dutch soap operas and police series: a multicultural audience research
5
a major role when Asian and black people in the soaps were discussed. For example, some
British Asian girls criticised the way Lahta, a British Asian female character, dated with
boyfriends. They stated that in real life – and probably in their real life – a British Asian girl
could never behave like that. In their opinion the dating storyline was unrealistic.
What the aforementioned studies have in common, is that they focus on processes of
identity construction and reconstruction. When young people offset soap characters’ identities
to their own daily experiences, they are actively shaping their identities – or maybe in fact
crossing cultural borders. Talking about soap operas according to Gillespie is “a major forum
for contest and debate over ‘old’ and ‘new’ identities” (Gillespie, 1995: 24). The studies also
have in common that they focus on the interpretation of ethnic minority viewers. There is not
much research into the role ethnicity plays for white people in interpreting soap operas. A
pilot study for the present research has shown that when white young people talk about Dutch
soaps, ethnicity only plays a role when they are talking about ethnic minority characters. In
general, white Dutch youngsters did not seem to notice the ethnicity of these characters, but
sometimes they mentioned they were interested in the storylines that focussed on ‘other’ –
that is, ethnic minority – cultures (Costera Meijer & De Bruin, fortcoming).
For unclear reasons, there is hardly any audience research on police series. This seems
strange, since police series like soaps are a genre that draws television audiences worldwide.
Thus, we do not know what role police series could play in processes of identity formation of
young people with different ethnic backgrounds. This is an interesting topic to study, because
Dutch police series have shown to be quite sophisticated in portraying ethnic minorities. They
include people from a whole range of ethnicities and thereby make visible that ethnicity is
always cross-cut by other identities such as age, gender or class (De Bruin, 2002).


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