Primary Frameworks, Keying, and the Dynamics of Contention
Sociology San Diego State University San Diego, CA, USA
Political Science Hebrew University Jerusalem, Israel
McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly's Dynamics of Contention approach to contentious politics (2001) has a strong cultural-interpretative focus that has not been widely recognized by social movement scholars. In this paper, we examine front-stage politics in light of back-stage cultural and interpretative processes, drawing upon the Chechen national mobilization (1987-1997) and the Palestinian national movement's struggle against Israeli rule (1987-2005). We use Goffman's original notion of "primary frameworks" to capture the influence of fundamental cultural templates, and his concept of "keying processes" to capture the way frameworks are reworked in the dynamics of political contention. We then identify three central components of primary frameworks, namely, collective identity, (the subject), what the subject does (the verb), and who or what is the object of those actions (the object). This paper identifies the primary frameworks and keying processes of Chechens and Palestinians with relation to Russia and Israel respectively. It then traces how they are played out in the heat of political contention as changes in the structure of political opportunities and threats unfold. We trace how the subject-verb-object triplet of primary frameworks help elaborate and specify the dynamic interpretative work in political contention, focusing McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly's process analysis on its essential elements and relationships.