Potential and Limitations of Framing Analysis in Analyzing Individual-Level Framing of an Illness Category: A Case Study on Depression in Japan

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:25
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Hiroto SHIMIZU, Osaka University, Japan
Framing analysis is a methodological tool for analyzing various social actors’ interpretive frames of reference; it investigates and relativizes various social actors’ particular definition of a situation, attribution of cause(s) and responsibility of the situation, and subsequent action taking. In the field of the sociology of health and illness, a body of framing analytic research on contemporary illness categories such as obesity (Kwan 2009; Greener et al. 2010) and dementia (Van Gorp and Vercruysse 2012), has been accumulated. While this line of research effectively identifies the competing perspectives, or frames, between social groups such as patients, advocates, health professionals, and policy makers, it has a weakness in that the individual-level variation in the framing process are lacking in the analysis because the unit of analysis is confined to the collective level.

Drawing on the case of depression in Japan, with specific attention to persons with depression, this paper examines the potential and limitations of framing analysis in analyzing “when, where, why, and how” (Kwan 2009) individuals experience and frame their own illness. The conceptual and societal proliferation of depression in contemporary Japan can be said to have provided not only a ground for collective-level contestation surrounding its diagnosis, etiology, and therapeutics, but also the interpretive diversity of depression and availability of various resources for action for an individual. Following the analysis of interview data gathered in 2015-2016, this paper ends with a theoretical consideration for locating framing analysis in the field of sociology of health and illness, and sociology in general.