This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Faction before Blood: Family Communication Patterns and Gender in the Dystopian Teen Drama Film Divergent (2014)




Mullis, Michaela

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism


This study examines the family communication and gender messages communicated in the dystopian teen drama Divergent (2014). Through application of family communication patterns theory and a family feminist perspective, the family communication orientations and family type in this film maintain the dominant gender ideology – patriarchy. In a two-step critical cultural methodology, this study first applies family communication patterns theory to the relationships between mother-daughter, father-daughter, and brother-sister presented in the film resulting in a laissez-faire family type. Second, the gender messages communicated in the film are analyzed by means of this specific family type portrayal. This analysis found that the depiction of this type of family communication resulted in adherence to patriarchal power structures within the family and the negative feminine characterization of Tris, the protagonist. Power in this family is maintained by the males and masculinity while the laissez-faire family type inhibits discourse to challenge this androcentric value. Implications of this analysis include the framing of masculinity as powerful and femininity as weak as well as the importance of communication to challenge dominant constructions and values in society.