Framing a ‘social problem’

Emotion in anti-abortion activists’ depiction of the abortion debate

Evangelos Ntontis, Nick Hopkins (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Abstract

Social psychological research on activism typically focuses on individuals' social identifications. We complement such research through exploring how activists frame an issue as a social problem. Specifically, we explore anti-abortion activists' representation of abortion and the abortion debate's protagonists so as to recruit support for the anti-abortion cause. Using interview data obtained with UK-based anti-abortion activists (N = 15), we consider how activists characterized women having abortions, pro-abortion campaigners, and anti-abortion campaigners. In particular, we consider the varied ways in which emotion featured in the representation of these social actors. Emotion featured in different ways. Sometimes, it was depicted as constituting embodied testament to the nature of reality. Sometimes, it was depicted as blocking the rational appraisal of reality. Our analysis considers how such varied meanings of emotion shaped the characterization of abortion and the abortion debate's protagonists such that anti-abortion activists were construed as speaking for women and their interests. We discuss how our analysis of the framing of issues as social problems complements and extends social psychological analyses of activism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-683
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume57
Issue number3
Early online date27 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2018

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Social Problems
Emotions
Psychology
Social Identification
Research
Interviews

Keywords

  • abortion
  • activism
  • anti-abortion activism
  • emotion talk
  • framing
  • identity construction

Cite this

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