Framing Neoliberalism: The Counter-Hegemonic Framing of the Global Justice, Antiwar, and Immigrant Rights Movements
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This dissertation explores how three social movements deployed an anti-neoliberal master frame during the course of a multi-movement protest wave. Using ethnographic content analysis. I examine the Global Justice (GJM), Antiwar (AWM), and Immigrant Rights movements (IRM) of the 2000s to offer a theoretical synthesis of the framing perspective in social movements and Gramscian hegemony, which I call the counter-hegemonic framing approach. This approach links the contested discursive practices of social movements to historically specific political-economic contexts to offer a macro framework to make sense of this meso-level activity that illuminates the development of a counter-hegemonic master frame. I apply this approach in case studies of each movement and a culminating incorporated comparison. In the GJM chapter, I found that the GJM frames neoliberal institutions such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund as influenced by corporate power. Second, the GJM amplifies the symptoms of neoliberal globalization such as global inequality and environmental degradation. Third, there is a master frame specific to neoliberalism which defines neoliberal globalization as a corporate project that seeks to reduce environmental, human rights, and labor regulations by eroding sovereignty in order to open markets and increase profits. For the AWM, I found that the movement integrated the context of both rollback and rollout neoliberalism into their framing to build opposition to the Afghan and Iraq War. In addition, following the corporate power frame of the GJM, the AWM problematizes the involvement of corporations in foreign policy discussions. For the IRM, I found that one of the central goals of their framing was to deflect blame away from undocumented immigrants. There are two ways the IRM accomplished this. First, the IRM emphasized the economic contributions of immigrants. Second, the IRM emphasized the impact of neoliberal globalization as a cause of increased immigration and social problems for which migrants were blamed. Finally, in an incorporated comparison of these case studies I found a distinct anti-neoliberal “repertoire of interpretation,” which forms the basis of an anti-neoliberal master frame that emphasizes US hegemony, corporate power, economic inequality, and neoliberal rollout.