Project Proposal


Project: Susan G. Komen vs. Occupy

David Palés

Project Proposal: The Breast Cancer “cure” has re-invented itself into a movement, not unlike “Occupy”. Recent events have politicized the activities of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Political influence with Republican/Tea Party affiliation have attempted to hijack or redirect the Komen Foundation to support anti-abortion objectives during the foundation’s normal activities supporting breast cancer “Cure” research operation. This analysis focuses on the discrete time frame in 2012 during which anti-abortion advocates attempted to obtain support or alliance with the “cure” advocates and the Komen foundation. This period directly coincides with press coverage of Occupy and the related public debate in the media. In both cases, the time frames and outcomes were significant.

Research Question: Pro-choice and Anti-abortion advocates engaged in a vicarious conflict for a very brief period in 2012 through a surrogate, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. This dramatic organizational shift in direction will be examined and the “movement” characteristics will be compared to “Occupy”.

The resulting media coverage and a major public outcry demonstrated  1) shifts in alliances,  and 2) group identity alteration in public sentiment and group affiliation. This debate environment differed dramatically from the traditional polemics between pro and anti-advocates. Accordingly, it gives us a unique and confided insight into underlying group dynamics and process. Komen had not been used as a surrogate. Moreover, the change in identity was seen as significant. The outcome of this very brief and intense debate was somewhat unexpected and created new and stronger alliances on both sides for the foundation. A similar external change effort also altered the dynamics of reference for Occupy. I expect to uncover the political dynamics of the discussion, key battle plans, and the new alliances that caused the Komen Foundation to retract its “new” position. I will also examine the changes in rhetoric that affected public sentiment for Occupy’s ability to continue its physical occupations and for the external groups to meet their objectives.

This brief inquiry will examine and identify the traditional frames of reference and how they differed – Komen vs. Occupy. In one case, Komen’s frames of reference and existence were threatened by an attempted change in identity and group affiliations from within the organization. In the case of Occupy, external elements were attempting to alter the Occupy mode of operations without denying free speech. The two examples are similar and present some insight into the power such groups exert, their ability to change/be changed, and the dynamics of those two, similar, but different processes. In both cases, the alterations were attempted in a very brief period, almost overlapping. Thus, it presents us with an ability not only to compare the results, but also to examine the communication processes at work. One of my personal interests is to examine how to apply framing process and media scraping as inquiry tools.

Methodology: The key arguments by pro and anti-abortion advocates surfaced in the press and the public media. We are able to capture the key terms of reference directly from media sources and digital feeds where available. We will also examine Occupy at an identical time frame when the public debate and terms of reference changed to permit its ejection from a more physical occupation. Given the similar time frames it will be possible to do an almost dynamic comparison between media sources. The framing processes of the two movements will be examined and compared using the Benford/Snow structure.

Technology Tools: media capture technology will be employed to capture or “scrape” key media arguments and language from both movements at similar time frames. In the process, we hope to examine other technologies or political techniques that may have been introduced during the two public debate periods. Language and terminology from the same media sources will be compared for the two different outcomes.

Work Process

March 14th:        Project proposal, class presentation with preliminary sources

March 15th:        Incorporation of class suggestion/observations

March 21st:        Present survey instrument to examine the linguistic similarities/dissimilarities

March 26+:        Surveys conducted

April 4:                Compile survey preliminaries and results of media language comparisons, findings

April 11th:           Revisions

May 16th:            Final draft


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