Summary: In previous posts on The Sociological Cinema, we have explored Erving Goffman's concept of framing (here, here, and here). To recap, the concept has been useful for scholars of social movements, who have rebranded the term collective action framing. The concept denotes the active and processual sense-making and signification of phenomena done by social actors. In other words, the realization that a conflict with police is evidence of a repressive state and that the passage of a new law is an effort to codify division and discrimination are socially "made" interpretations or meanings. They are the social achievements sociologists refer to as frames. The success then of passing a new law or amending an old one often hinges on how the proposed change is framed for the public and how influential that particular frame is in shaping the terms of the debate. The above clip is a speech from Reverend Dr. William J. Barber. who rebukes the media for using the "wrong" frame to report on the recent amendment to North Carolina's state constitution, which passed on May 8, 2012 and defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment also bans any other type of "domestic legal union," such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Barber asserts that the media frequently polled the public asking, "How do you feel about same-sex marriage?" but a better question—a better frame—would have been whether a majority should be able to decide on the rights of a minority, or should discrimination should be written into the constitution? Here Barber is clearly attempting to key the struggle against Amendment One to the protests of the Civil Rights Era, and he even mentions the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by name. In Part II, we'll move beyond framing and explore how this video can be used to illustrate insights from intersectionality theory, a theory that offers promise in overcoming the divisions of identity politics.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist