Media for Diversity and Migrant Integration

The Multicultural Face of Popular Dutch TV Drama

TitleThe Multicultural Face of Popular Dutch TV Drama
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Original TitleHet multiculturele gezicht van populair Nederlands televisiedrama
Year of Publication2003
Authorsde Bruin, J.
EditorBoerman, T., P. Pisters, and J. Segal
Book TitleBeeldritsen: visuele cultuur en etnische diversiteit in Nederland
Place Publishedde Balie
1) Abstract

In Dutch TV drama, characters of different ethnicities meet each other. Immigrants criticize the representations of immigrants/ethnic minorities in Dutch soaps. The identity of ethnic minorities is represented as either 'full' or 'empty'. However, characters' identity may also shift, and may be differentiated, e.g. when more characters of the same ethnicity appear at the same time in the series.

3.1) Main Issues

Empty (incorporated) ethnic characters are often represented by Black or Asian actors. Turkish or Moroccan characters are not represented in this way. Stereotypes abound: when ethnic characters represent a story line about discrimination, they typically need help from the white community to overcome their difficulties, they cannot act independently. All in all, empty characters do not really belong to the white community. Full ethnic characters are represented as different, cultural differences are emphasised, and the characters are placed outside the community. IN the soaps analysed this happened mostly to Italians, and Moroccans. Diverse ethnicity did occur within the series, but more as an illustration of change, i.e. not often simultaneously (it was at one moment either full or empty). The final type is the reflexive character, who is actively constructing the own ethnicity and/or questions the 'White' norms. Police series offered the best examples of diverse ethnicity, comedies and soaps switched between full and empty, and there were only rare attempts at reflexivity in the drama series analysed.

3.3) Media Genres

TV drama

3.4) Key Theories

Geraghty's strategies. incorporation strategy: non-white characters are filled the same way as Whites, without making their ethnicity part of the story line. Exotic strategy: character is introduced as an outsider and skin colour/other features reinforce difference. Singleton strategy: characters carry out a story line about discrimination or racism.

4.1) Relevance

Strategies in TV fiction, important aspect for integration, but not often researched. Interesting analytical approach, that can be combined with research among audiences and/or programme makers.

Keywordscontent, Netherlands, representation
Tagsdrama characters, ethnicity, integration, TV drama