Framing Entitlement, Framing Inequality: Women, State, and Frames

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Preethi KRISHNAN, Purdue University, USA
Social movement scholars have examined frames to explain emergence and mobilization of movements that target the state from outside. However, the notion of the challenger distinctly separate from the state, overlooks the role state institutions play in shaping those challenges. Neoliberal state policies such as privatization are implemented in societies embedded in the unequal relations of gender, class, and caste that lead to different outcomes for different groups of people. If and how people demand their entitlements from the state is influenced both by state policies and local inequities. I integrate the concept of frames in social movement theory, and inequality to address the following research question: How do women interpret their entitlement to basic services in the context of increasing privatization in India? I develop two key concepts - frame appropriation and reactive adoption – to demonstrate how state policies facilitate and hinder radical entitlement claims. State welfare services provide women the opportunity to demand basic services as an entitlement. While claiming those entitlements, women may appropriate and adapt state frames in welfare policies to challenge mainstream narratives that justify gender and caste inequality, what I refer to as frame appropriation. In contrast, other state policies may encourage women (from marginally better SES) to uncritically adopt dominant neoliberal frames that exacerbate gender, caste, and class inequality, what I refer to as reactive adoption. Based on five months of ethnographic fieldwork in rural Tamil Nadu (India) where I studied the Indian government’s welfare initiative, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), I utilize observations and 50 semi-structured interviews with mothers, childcare workers, and state representatives to delineate the conditions under which women deployed two frames regarding entitlement to basic services: the resonant frame, ‘entitlement to food’ and the radical frame, ‘entitlement to redistribution of care-work from family to the state.’