Framing the world: Elite ideologies in United States media discourse of the War on Terrorism campaign

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation analyzes how United States elites ideologically framed events of September 11, 2001 (9–11) and the implementation of the first year of the ‘War on Terrorism’ (WOT). In seeking to understand how the strategic use of frames by different categories of U.S. elites (e.g., government officials, corporate officials, etc.) effectively limited or expanded options for state action in response to the attacks of 9–11, this dissertation utilizes and builds on the framing perspective of the social movements' literature. This study considers how elite opinion shapers mobilize collective action frames for elite ends, which draw upon a collective identity and shared racialized, gendered and classed ideologies of ‘America’, its enemies, and its role in the world.

Qualitative Content Analysis and Critical Framing Analysis were employed upon a theoretically purposive sample of major speeches of George W. Bush (GWB) and New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorials, staff commentaries and guest op-eds. Differences and similarities in diagnostic, prognostic and motivational framing between sources and categories of elites were identified and sociologically explained. This analysis included measuring the amount of support each media document gave for the ideological assumptions of the WOT as represented in speeches of GWB.

Although the WSJ was more supportive of the WOT than the NYT, the NYT editorial board was farther ahead of its readership in support of the WOT. And media elites from both newspapers were more supportive of the WOT than government officials. Near consensus for all groups of elites was found for the policy of preemptive strikes and specifically regime change in Iraq. The media were found to not only translate and circulate elite ideologies of the WOT but to help amplify the framing of them as well.

What emerged from the data while employing Critical Framing Analysis to examine constructions of race; class and economics; and gender in elite discourse, was an ideology that can best be described as an imperialist ideology. It is argued that elites and media elites in particular, delegitimated not only ‘terrorists’ but those who criticized the ‘inevitability’ of the Americanization of global economy and culture.

Indexing (details)

Social structure;
Political science;
Mass media;
International law;
International relations
0700: Social structure
0615: Political science
0708: Mass media
0616: International law
0616: International relations
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Discourse; Elite ideologies; Framing; Media; Terrorism; War on terrorism
Framing the world: Elite ideologies in United States media discourse of the War on Terrorism campaign
Klocke, Brian Virgil
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 65/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496123612, 0496123610
Mayer, Thomas
University of Colorado at Boulder
University location
United States -- Colorado
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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