Portland State University. Department of Sociology
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology
1 online resource (vii, 155 pages)
Using quantitative content analysis, this study explores social movement (SM) framing in commercial news media -- by comparing how leading newspapers covered prominent protest occupations in 2011 and 2016. More than other SMs, anti-systemic protests like the 2011 Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and the 2016 Malheur Refuge Occupation (MRO) only have partial frame-setting agency, raising a broad theory question (to inform the research questions below): If SMs and media relate as interacting systems, are protest news frames more movement- or more media- driven; and do media not just enable but also constrain SMs?
With the movement-media theory question above, the study design adapts media opportunity structure (MOS) to model a hierarchy of influences on news coverage of ideologically opposed or "distant twin" OWS and MRO, as 40- to 60-day protest occupations. The focused research question -- exploring media's constraining potential -- asks if commercial news framing of collective action: i) commercially frames or "sells" even anti-corporate protest; or ii) instead marginalizes or neutralizes such protest? Coverage from three top national or state newspapers (The New York Times, USA Today, and The Oregonian) was analyzed randomly from all protest stories during the occupations. Sampled time periods in 2011 and 2016, during actual encampments/ occupations in Portland, OR and New York City (OWS) and in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon (MRO), also correspond with transitional years in print news.
The inductive-based comparative results, from 15 coding dimensions for news framing of collective action, dispersed passivity, and commercially-framed activism, showed some evidence for the "selling protest" question. And the compiled summary Framing Advantages and Disadvantages yield this study's key finding: Although anti-corporate OWS was far larger, with more widespread media coverage, the comparative overall media frame for the small, remote, anti-government MRO was far more potent and resonant.
Comparing media-and-movement framing of these distant twin 40-day protest occupations finds some support for the "selling (or underselling) protest" question. This comparative frame analysis helps bridge micro- and macro-theory levels, addressing an enduring dual gap in movement-media research literature -- to yield insight on SMs' and media's respective roles in protest news framing and then identify potential mechanisms for future research.
Butz, Andrew David, "Selling Protest in the News? Movement-Media Framing of Occupations: An Exploratory Study" (2018). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4510.
Available for download on Wednesday, July 31, 2019