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Sociology 626

Frames, Ideologies, Etc.

Notes on readings
Snow et al. 1986 Frame Alignment
• Frame alignment = “linkage of individual and SMO interpretive
orientations, such that some set of individual interests, values and beliefs and
SMO activities, goals and ideology are congruent and complementary.” I.e.
individuals’ ideas line up with movement ideas.
• Frame= “schemata of interpretation” that enable individuals “to locate,
perceive, identify and label” occurrences within their life space and world at
• Frames render occurrences meaningful.
Frame alignment
• Seen as necessary for movement participation
• Micromobilization = interactive & communicative processes that affect
frame alignment
• Critique literature to stress that grievances cannot be taken as given, but
are interpreted, constructed
• Key idea is how the SMO’s ideas can be “aligned” with those of potential
constituents so they will agree/participate
• Similar to Klandermans’s idea of consensus mobilization
4 processes of frame alignment
• Frame bridging: connect to people who agree with you
• Frame amplification: build on existing opinions to persuade people
• Frame extension: expand your own frame to draw in others
• Frame transformation: wholesale ideological conversion
Frame Bridging
• Link two “ideologically congruent but structurally unconnected” frames
• Translation: identify people who already probably agree with you but are
not yet connected to your group and reach out to them
• Example: mailing lists. Borrow/rent lists from allied organizations on the
assumption their members are likely to support your cause
• Similar to others’ ideas about expanding networks
Frame Amplification (1)
• = “Clarification and invigoration of an interpretive frame.” Build on ideas
they already have
• Value amplification = stress relevance of issue to values people already
hold, remind people of these values
• Belief amplification = reinforce or change beliefs
• Seems to be another name for persuasive communication or what
Klandermans calls “consensus mobilization”
Frame amplification (2)
• Belief amplification = reinforce or change beliefs
– Seriousness of problem
– Cause or blame
– Stereotypes of antagonists
– Efficacy of collective action
– Necessity of “standing up”
• These are consistent with “rational” accounts of why people participation
• Stress that perceptions of what is reasonable are subject to persuasion
and influence
Frame Extension
• SMO broadens its program to address other issues believed to be more
salient to potential constituents
– Example: [white] peace groups added anti-racism anti-
discrimination statements to platforms in an attempt to reach racial/ethnic
– Example 2: religious conversion efforts, discover the person’s
interests and then talk about them
Frame Transformation
• Wholesale reconstruction of either the specific issue OR one’s whole life
• Whole life: Ideological or religious conversation
– Typically includes biographical reconstruction (you re-work how you
understand the history of your life)
– Involves learning a whole new ideology; takes time, involves
• Domain-specific: injustice frame. From “personal trouble” to “injustice” or
– This is like concept of consciousness raising
Frame alignment, summary
• These ideas have become very influential
• They are similar to other ideas, as I have indicated
• Important to distinguish ideas of
– a frame = a way of looking at something
– an ideology = a relatively coherent system of ideas which links
• Values about right & wrong, justice & injustice
• Beliefs about how society works (a theory of society)
• Ideologies can provide frames, but not all frames are ideologies
Components of frames (ideologies)
• Original is John Wilson, repacked by Snow & Benford
• Diagnosis: What is causing the problem.
• Prognosis: What should be done about the problem.
• Call to action: Why now is the time and you are the one to act

Poletta “It was like a fever” Narrative

• Stories civil rights protesters told about their participation stressed
spontaneity, uncertainty about agency
• Narratives have plot, chronology; they interpret past and future, and
provide meaning by locating events in an unfolding or evolving story
• Ambiguity is central to narrative, narratives raise more questions than they
• In telling of our becoming, we create our identity
Poletta: “It was like a fever”
• Contra implications of frame theory, civil rights narratives did not stress
clarity & agency, but rather being swept up in a force larger than oneself
– Moral imperatives, the force of history, not strategic plans
• Told stories of personal humiliation, nonpolitical intentions ending in
unplanned “standing up”
• Students becoming activists, leading their own movement, downplaying
outside influences
Poletta: significance of narratives
• Downplaying planning partly a response to “outside agitator” rhetoric
• Students told stories in ways that impelled more action, that left causes &
effects & meanings ambiguous
• The telling of the story leads the listener to think that he or she should act
• Interesting to compare to the standard “Rosa Parks” narrative
Raka Ray: Fields of Protest
• Political field shapes movements
• Comparison of women’s movements in Bombay and Calcutta
• Initial question was “why no women’s movement in Calcutta?”
• Reframed question: why is the women’s movement so different in Bombay
and Calcutta?
– Bombay women’s movement is more recognizable to Western
– Calcutta women’s movement is tied to Communist ideology
• No “women’s movement” in Western sense, although strong women’s
• Dominated by CPI-(M). One-party organization is hegemonic.
• All political action stays within the bounds defined by the party, do not
“split” the class by pitting women against men
• The Party controls all resources
• “Women’s issues” are those women respond to. E.g. literacy
• Congress Party dominates, but not hegemonic, multi-party field
• Women’s movements operate independently of parties, seek to create
their own space
• “Women’s issues” are those which are distinctive to women, derived from
logic of creating distinct organizational identity
• Focus on amniocentesis & abortion for selecting the sex of a fetus as an
issue of violence against women, even though women are choosing it
Wife Beating
• Women in both cities had similar private ideas about causes as a
combination of
– Patriarchal ideologies which devalued women, permitted men to
beat wives
– Lack of social welfare system or female employment, which gave
women no alternative
• Most activity in both cities was similar
– negotiate with husbands/families to stop the abuse
– try to find alternate living arrangements for the woman
• But public expression was very different
– Not a public issue at all in Calcutta, would “divide the class”
– Patriarchy stressed in Bombay (not social welfare)

Superbarrio (Cadena-Roa)
• Mexico City Assembla de los Barrios
• Figure created on purpose as a symbol of fighting for the poor
• Draws on wrestling images of corrupt opponents & rigged matches +
triumph of the underdog
• Framing through visual imagery