Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment

By Robert D. Benford, David A. Snow, Nathalie Miriam Plouchard

This text is a translation of a well-known article by Robert D. Benford and David A. Snow initially published in 2000 in the Annual Review of Sociology. The recent proliferation of scholarship on collective action frames and framing processes in relation to social movements indicates that framing processes have come to be regarded, alongside resource mobilization and political opportunity processes, as a central dynamic in understanding the character and course of social movements. This review examines the analytic utility of the framing literature for understanding social movement dynamics. It first reviews how collective action frames have been conceptualized, including their characteristic and variable features. It then examines the literature related to framing dynamics and processes. Next, it reviews the literature regarding various contextual factors that constrain and facilitate framing processes. It concludes with an elaboration of the consequences of framing processes for other movement processes and outcomes. It seeks throughout to provide clarification of the linkages between framing concepts/processes and other conceptual and theoretical formulations relevant to social movements, such as schemas and ideology.

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