The study aims to explain the communicative basis of conflicts in which actors stand in opposition in defining a negotiated situation and to deepen knowledge of environmental conflict development, in particular on how frames are (re)shaped through discursive choices in interaction.
This study adopts an interactional approach to framing and 1) identifies the frames shaped and reshaped in four environmental debates and 2) analyzes how framing activities affect the course of the debates.
This study contributes to understanding 1) the interactive nature of conflicts; 2) how the reception and interpretation of issue framing depends on the surrounding identity and characterization framing and 3) how framing activities, like identity work, emotional alignment and reframing, can affect the course of environmental debates toward polarizing or bridging.
On a methodological level, this study contributes to communication research by applying methodologies for investigating framing processes on a micro-level. This study investigates interactional framing, considering the perspectives of frame strategists engaging in issue arenas. The study provides an in-depth discourse analysis of the debates but lacks an overview on the entire issue arena regarding this conflict.
Skilled actors span boundaries by articulating issue frames that accommodate opponents' concerns and values while demonstrating the added value of the new frame, adjusting identity work in favor of relations with opponents. Furthermore, calibrating emotional intensity offers opportunities to mobilize support.
This research investigates which communicative competences are essential to act adequately in environmental conflicts, given their intractable nature, and suggests opportunities for cocreation by making discursive choices. This approach helps to uncover the micro-processes that escalate and de-escalate a conflict.