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Lecture 6

SOCI 3250 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Erving Goffman

Course Code
SOCI 3250
Pablo Lapegna

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SOCI 3250 Protest and Social Movements
Lecture 6: From Political Processes to Cultural Processes . . . Framing
I. Social Movement Frames
Alternative to Political Process Theory Framing
o how do activists and movements construct opportunities and communicate
them to others?
Frame cultural construction of meaning
o Snow & Benford drawing from E. Goffman: “an interpretative schemata
that simplifies and condenses the world out there by selectively
punctuating and encoding objects, situations, events, experiences”
o Dominant Frames “official frames of government & mass media
o Alternative Frames Social Movement Frames (alternative frames that
can motivate collective action)
Must convince audience about . . .
1) the root of the problem (diagnosis)
2) the solution (prognosis)
3) a call to action (a need for social change)
Framing process of cognitive construction & of interpreting a situation
o Gives a narrative to social movement that causes collective action for
o Transforms private problems into public issues
II. Framing Process
Strategic attempts by SMOs to frame issues appeal to people’s existing cultural
beliefs and/or transform the way they think about the world (attempt to make
people sympathetic to the cause)
o Trying to engage those who should be a part of movement but are not yet
(not necessarily attempting to convince those with opposing views)
o Activists may use discourses, symbols, slogans, & images to appeal to
culture and emotions
Frame alignment activists align their interpretation of the problem with those
of potential participants (the linkage of individual & SMO interpretive
o Aligning frame of movement with pre-existing frames
Cycles of protest may emerge in absence of a favorable political
opportunity may emerge from a master frame
o Master frames pre-existing general frameworks (elastic, flexible, &
III. Unanswered Questions left by Framing
Can cultural meanings by freely manipulated by SMOs and activists to create the
desired effect?
Is ‘culturea resource that social movements can strategically employ?
Is cultural ‘in people’s heads’? Can it be reduced to individual cognitive
Political structures constrain activists and culture enables them? Are there ways in
which culture can be constraining too?
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