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Framing diversity in teen drama: Streaming series as a case study for social and discursive constructions.


Concepts of inclusivity and diversity are socially and discursively constructed through a variety of contexts, including televisual/streaming series. Undoubtedly, televisual/streaming products strongly impact how individuals (especially younger generations; Trudgill 1986, Bednarek 2017) are exposed to and have experience with construed situations, since they broaden the range of different positions in contexts. In fact, certain themes are problematized in dramas and are successively negotiated in dialogues, favoring different viewpoints and attitudes. In ongoing screen interactions, therefore, the audience participates in the enactment and alignment of meanings that challenge the different representations of reality (Dewulf and Bouwen 2012, Bednarek 2018). In the context of the socio-political input that favours inclusivity, this paper investigates the type of diversity that is framed and in what way it is negotiated within fictional interactions in teen drama. The analytical tools of Critical Discourse Studies are combined with the interaction-oriented ones to investigate the discursive strategies of identity constructions in interaction (Stamou 2018). Exchanges from three American teen dramas, representing the audiovisual experience that would best fit the age group of adolescents, are investigated to explore fictionalization within and throughout dialogues, and to study how specific identities are constructed (as in normalized/accepted/rejected), and what discourses are drawn for these constructions. Results show that some differences in how specific (stereotypical) identities are treated occur and that certain exchanges in dialogues strategically sustain, support or reject particular messages about diversity to frame “group identity” meanings.