Framing: a cliché?

In the readings, the point that resonated with me the most was in Benford’s piece, An Insider’s Critique of the Social Movement Framing Perspective, when he mentions that “the term ‘frame’ has become a cliché in the study of social movements.” It raises the question: Has “framing” been overused? The framing itself, of course is not something that can be overused since it is an action, but the scholars of social movements have created several types of frames that may have lost their meaning.
The point is made more solid when he composes a list of different frames that take up a good portion of the page. The main argument is that the field is lacking a sociology of movement framing processes, but has an abundance of frame names.
From the evidence he presents, I have to agree with the claim Benford is making.  Even in our everyday lives we hear of “framing” that is going on. Just yesterday, The Indypendent blog reported on movements occurring in Chicago, and mentioned framing problems,

The issue of violence in the movement is at least in part a framing issue. Successful framing for a movement, as John A. Noakes and Hank Johnston highlight in Frames of Protest: Social Movements and the Framing Perspective, is more than just analyzing and identifying the issues: “individuals must be convinced that an injustice has occurred, persuaded that collective action is called for, and motivated to act if a social movement is to occur.” The identification and analysis are there, but thus far, a powerful, culturally-attractive frame or story has yet to appear that articulates and mobilizes the NATO-G8 protests as a positive force.

This recent event ties in perfectly with Benford’s critique, because the article claims that the negative framing occurring is because of the prevalence of the violent protestor’s narrative. The “neglect of emotions,” as Benford writes, negatively affects understanding of a movement, and since resource mobilization scholars neglect the passions of the people that compose of  a movement, it is easy to understand why personalization and emotion are being improperly framed in this movement (That and of course the media’s personal agenda). The organizers of this particular movement seem to be trying to reframe the situation, attempting for a “family-friendly” frame.

All things considered, framing is a term we hear so often that it probably has become a cliche to many people. There are “framing wars” that happen between movements and the media, and we probably attempt to frame our own personal conquests. The word has been used too often, but to write-off framing would be like trying to ignore a giant elephant in your dorm room; it is just going to cause you a lot of grief. Framing, however cliche, is an aspect of social movements that must continue to be analyzed, in the way that Bedford suggests: More analyzing how as opposed to naming the framings.


2 thoughts on “Framing: a cliché?

  1. Pingback: Week 4 Megablog: Framing & Standing | Networked Social Movements

  2. Pingback: Empirical research on movement framing and the lack of standardized methods |

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