Frame Changes and Social Movement Contraction: U.S. Peace Movement Framing After the Cold War

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Peace and Conflict Studies | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


This study analyzes framing processes and their relationships with ongoing social movement change. We examine peace frames found among U.S. peace movement organizations (PMOs) in its period of contraction at the end of the Cold War. On the basis of analysis of a unique two-wave survey of U.S. peace movement organizations in 1988 and 1992, we assess the extent to which organizational framing of the peace problematic changed. We found an overall shift in emphases from more bilateral frames like the nuclear weapons freeze to frames emphasizing multilateralism and global interdependence. PMO frame transformations that took place between 1988 and 1992 represent a trend towards broader, more radical (or structural) and less exclusive peace movement frames. We describe the frame transformations observed here as the emergence of “retention frames.” Retention frames embody several dimensions of movement abeyance structures and serve to sustain organizational continuity across episodes of movement surges and contraction.