Framing Struggles: Mapping the Competing Discourses of the Gezi Resistance in Newspaper Columns

Mustafa Yavas, New York University Abu Dhabi

Competing discourses on a historical event can tell us a lot about both how the event was perceived by public opinion and how political actors struggle over that perception. For instance, referring to a collective action as a riot vs. a protest has distinct effects on the audience. Thus, framing an event in a certain way instead of others is a position-taking in the political field. In this paper, I rely on big data to study what I call as “framing struggles” via focusing on the competing labeling practices of events, inspired by Bourdieu’s “classification struggles” argumentation. Here, I provide a systematic analysis of the discourse on the Gezi Resistance in Turkish daily newspaper columns over 4 years since the event. Using computational textual analysis hand-in-hand with network analysis, I visualize the field of opinion in Turkey by means of mapping networks of newspapers and columnists based on their position-takings regarding the Gezi Resistance. I find that while there is a significant level of polarization—crystallizing between pro-Gezi and anti-Gezi positions, the neutral positions, mostly claimed by mainstream newspapers, are getting significantly more closely aligned with anti-Gezi positions over time. Moreover, I also map the network of the key frames of the Gezi Resistance, based on the columnists’ and newspapers’ usage of them. Showing the symbolic space holistically over a network, this analysis reveals how the frame of “Gezi Resistance” unequivocally symbolizes a pro-Gezi position, while the frame of “Gezi Events,” due to its ambiguity being co-opted by anti-Gezi columnists, pulls the mainstream newspapers towards an anti-Gezi position. Drawing from these findings, I discuss how studying such struggles over historical events can shed light on changes (or lack thereof) in political culture.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 230. Culture Logics and Frames