Framing Disputes in the Movement Against Capital Punishment
Disagreements occur within all social movements over the best way to present issues or the best strategies to employ. For instance, labor activists once fell into two broad categories: those who demanded worker control of the means of production and those who sought only the right to bargain with their employers for better wages and working conditions. In the 1960s, the civil rights movement was torn by questions of whether racial integration or self- determination was the proper objective of African Americans and whether violent tactics were ever justified. Some environmentalists portray the natural environment as "natural resources" to be "conserved"; for others, it is a separate realm over which humankind has no claim of proprietorship. At times, disputes such as these have broken movements apart, whereas in other cases such disagreement has been downplayed in order to preserve at least a modicum of unity.
Robert Benford ( 1993) has devised a useful vocabulary for understanding internal divisions within movements. Based on the frame alignment perspective, he conceptualized such disagreements as "frame disputes," and identified three major forms they may take. Diagnostic disputes are disagreements over the correct way of perceiving the problem that a movement is addressing. The nuclear disarmament groups Benford studied, for example, clashed over whether to focus on nuclear weapons alone or to address factors that increased the threat of military conflict between nations. Prognostic disputes have to do with either the solutions a movement endorses or the strategies and tactics it employs. Some of Benford's antinuclear organizations wanted to endorse a moratorium on the installation of medium-range ballistic missiles in Europe, whereas more radical activists saw this as a sellout. The latter would settle for nothing less than stopping further weapons deployment once and for all, and did not balk at calling for the use of illegal forms of civil disobedience to