Anti-discrimination policies often generate opposition from people who disagree with how the policies are being implemented and from people who disagree with how resources and power might be reallocated if the policies are implemented. This opposition can shift the focus away from the core issues like equity, discrimination, and barriers to equal access, toward issues that undermine the policy, like reverse discrimination, survival of tradition and traditional values, and effects on the status quo. It can also pose a threat to the timing and effectiveness of anti-discrimination policy implementation.
This dissertation begins by offering a concept explication of the term "backlash" that could be used in future social science research. Then, using as a case study the 35-year conflict over the implementation of Title IX as it relates to women in sports, this dissertation explains how the opposition to Title IX has exemplified backlash.
This dissertation uses frame analysis of major newspapers and of legal and legislative sources to suggest a model for how a conflict featuring backlash is likely to evolve when the mass media are involved. It builds descriptively and theoretically on existing scholarly work, especially that related to frame theory, cultivation theory, and conflict theory. It helps to explain the conditions under which backlash frames emerge in a policy conflict and migrate to the mass media; it articulates the role of the mass media vis-à-vis the conflict over the implementation of Title IX, providing a predictive model for how backlash might appear in other public policy conflicts; and it contributes ideas that could be used in the construction of a comprehensive theory of conflict transformation involving backlash.
This dissertation concludes that backlash is part of a dynamic process that involves responsive argument adaptation and deliberate shifts in framing strategy on the part of the disputants in an anti-discrimination policy conflict.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2009. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Daniel B. Wackman. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 224 pages, appendix pages 222-224.
Kaiser, Kent Luther.
Anti-discrimination policy backlash: Title IX as a Mass Communication case study..
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