Negotiating Boundaries between Us and Them: Ethnic Norwegians and Norwegian Muslims Speak out about the ‘Next Door Neighbour Terrorist’ in 24
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Interpretive communities can read a media text in different ways. The present article examines how various interpretive communities of young adults in Norway perceive the action serial 24’s portrayal of a Muslim family. It investigates the understandings and attitudes informants express in their conversations about the Muslim ‘next door neighbour terrorist’ stereotype, and sheds light on how 24’s text can mobilize stereotypes and facilitate stereotyping among viewers. The findings reveal different patterns of reception. The ethnic Norwegian participants found gratifications in 24’s storyline, while a majority of the Norwegian Muslims found it unpleasant and offensive. An important contribution to the fear that the stereotype evoked in the ethnic Norwegians was related to the challenge and tension it created in the negotiation process of categorization. The category ‘Muslim’ triggered a powerful response, and the conversation veered off in a xenophobic direction. This is an example of how an interpretive community modified its perception of the stereotype through socially patterned readings.