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Microfoundations of framing: the interactional production of collective action frames in the Occupy movement

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Reinecke, J 
Ansari, S 


Social movement scholars typically have focused either on how social movements strategically use collective action frames to confront targets and mobilize supporters, or on how targets respond to social movements. Few have captured the interactional dynamics between the two. This neglect tends to obscure how an extant collective action frame may shift, or how a new one may arise during such interactions. To address this issue, we focus on movement-target interactions and illuminate the microfoundations of framing that produce a new collective action frame. Drawing on real-time participant observations, we examine how an unintended collective action frame emerged and escalated during a year-long interaction between the Occupy London movement and St Paul’s Cathedral, Church of England. Occupy protesters shifted from a “Capitalism is Crisis” frame targeting the UK’s financial establishment, to a “What Would Jesus Do?” frame targeting the Church. We develop a process model based on the interplay of frame laminations and three situational mechanisms—emotional attachment to a frame, frame sacralization, and frame amplification—derived from an analysis of framing in movement-target interactions to explain the emergence and escalation of an unexpected collective action frame.



3505 Human Resources and Industrial Relations, 35 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services, 3507 Strategy, Management and Organisational Behaviour

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Academy of Management Journal

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Academy of Management


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