Using Literary Ethnography to Explore Adolescents’ Romantic Experiences Found in Pop Fiction’s “Falling for the Opposite”

Authors: Hannah Camille Arboleda, Tara Elnar, (De La Salle University, The Philippines)
Speakers: Hannah Camille Arboleda, Tara Elnar
Strand: Narrative and Metanarrative
Session Type: General Session


Despite the prominence of romance in discourse and different forms of media, there are scarce studies that have an in-depth investigation on adolescent romantic experiences. Scholars have enumerated why social scientists avoided delving into the field, one of which involves its dynamic nature, thus unfitting in some known developmental theories. Nevertheless, there is importance in filling the gaps as romantic experiences are proven to have significant impacts on the development of adolescents. This study aimed to describe adolescent romantic experiences through literary ethnography where the researchers utilized fictional narratives rather than personal accounts, recommended when dealing with sensitive topics and vulnerable populations. For the data source, it must have the development stage of an adolescent romantic relationship and must be under the “Teen Fic” category of Pop-Fiction, a company under Summit Media and Wattpad. An initial sample of around 15 novels was to be included; however, only “Falling for the Opposite” by Katrina Serrano was accessed and utilized in the study. The narratives collected from the novel were arranged using Google Sheets, analyzed using narrative and thematic analysis, and presented using Knapp and Vangelisti’s Staircase Model of Interaction Stages. The results indicated that there is a correlation between the processes involved in the romantic experiences of the main teenage characters of the novel, Drew Everett and Celeste Graham, and the processes in the model, therefore substantiating the content of the model. However, collected narratives containing scenes where one of the main teenage characters was trying to resolve the conflict between them, did not fit in any of the stages or steps of the model. Additionally, the main teenage characters were not always on the same stage throughout their romantic experiences, a phenomenon that was not addressed by the model. Findings found through thematic analysis showed that common challenges experienced by the main characters affected the progression of the main teenage characters’ relationship. Their recurring behaviors and actions during their conflicts led to common patterns and themes being discovered. Moreover, the researchers noted that external factors, such as parents and peers, affected the development of the main teenage characters’ relationship which supported the claims of previous studies. With these said, the researchers recommend further expansion on the model to accommodate the nature of relationships, as well as further research which could contribute to a more profound understanding of these phenomena.

Keywords: Knapp and Vangelisti’s Staircase Model of Interaction Stages, Literature, Narrative analysis, Novel, Thematic analysis