Today’s youth still articulates strong normative expectations concerning gender and sexuality. They mostly reflect the dominant cultural heteronormative order. Computer mediated communication through social networking sites comes with far more advanced possibilities to represent the self. The new opportunity for self representation creates an online stage to express ones gender and sexual identity. The aim of this research project is to obtain a better insight in these online self representations: which tools are used by youngsters to represent themselves online, are these online self representations heteronormative, and how does this affect young people’s identity development? Drawing on queer theory and the concept of subversion, this project will focus on creative expressions who could possibly reinforce thinking beyond the binary cultural system. This might stimulate gender equality and reduce homophobia in our contemporary society. This study will answer these questions by using both quantitative and qualitative research techniques: a quantitative audience study at the usage of computer mediated communication; a qualitative textual analysis of the content of computer mediated communication; a qualitative reception and audience study using focus groups, in-depth interviews and visual methods.
Inspired by Stuart Hall’s politics of representation (Hall, 1997) and Queer Theory, this research project wants to obtain a better insight into the social and emancipating role of the gay and lesbian representations in contemporary screen culture. Which gay and lesbian images are produced (film, television, screen culture)? How do youngsters interpret these images? Central to this project is the position of these representations in society and their potential role in pursuing equality of rights. The research project combines quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The project will use: a content analysis (film and television programming); audience rates and box office data; film/textual analysis (on the portrayal and representation of gay and lesbian (main or side) characters; qualitative audience study (how youngsters interpret contemporary gay and lesbian representations).
The purpose of this research is to elaborate on the meaning of popular fictional televisionprogrammes for migrant youngsters. We will study this by means of qualitative audience-and reception research. More specifically, we will study if (and how) popular fictional discourses play a role in the identity construction process of teenagers with migrant backgrounds. To do this, we will use a recently developed method; visual ethnography.