Occupy Wall Street- Rebels or Patriots: A Test of Framing Theory

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Pudota, Reshma
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Middle Tennessee State University
Previous research indicates that the framing of public demonstrations, in terms of civil liberties or civic dangers, has an impact on public opinion regarding the demonstrators. However, this research has focused predominantly on extreme right-wing groups. Two experiments were conducted to test the effects of media coverage on attitudes towards the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The OWS movement was a social movement that started in New York, United States of America, to protest against social and economic inequality. The first experiment's design was post-test only with 3-conditions: a grassroots civic movement frame (GCM), a neutral (NT) frame, and a dangerous civic disorder frame (DCD). Initial analysis indicated unexpected results, but when data were refined to include only participants who passed a manipulation check, those in the GCM condition evaluated OWS most positively, followed by those in the NT condition, with those in the DCD condition evaluating OWS most negatively. Based on those results, a second experiment was conducted with revised stimuli and a pre-test/post-test design. Here, there was not a significant difference in post-test attitudes, but differences in attitude change were statistically significant, positive in the GCM condition, and negative in the DCD condition. Limitations and opportunities for future research are discussed.
Civil Liberties, Framing, Occupy Wall Street, Public Demonstrations, Social Movements