Issue Framing and Citizen Apathy Toward Local Environmental Contamination

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Abstract

We adapt the frame-alignment perspective in order to demonstrate how institutional framing shapes media coverage of a toxic crisis. This framing activity is described as a new approach to managing public responses to contamination that differs from the approach characterizing contamination episodes at Love Canal and Woburn, MA. Our analysis focuses on the process by which actors responsible for managing toxic crises carefully construct and manage a coordinated risk frame. We refer to this as institutional framing and illustrate how it shapes media framing of a toxic event. We conclude by proposing further research to identify the causal relationship between institutional framing and the absence of mobilization.

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