Framing by Actors in the Human Rights Debate: the Kony 2012 Campaign
Meriläinen, N., & Vos, M. (2014). Framing by Actors in the Human Rights Debate: the Kony 2012 Campaign. Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 32 (3), 238-257. doi:10.1080/18918131.2014.937213
Published inNordic Journal of Human Rights
© Taylor & Francis. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Routledge, part of Taylor & Francis.
Human rights actors form networks and debate in issue arenas to find solutions to violations. Framing can be used to create and increase issue salience as well as organisational importance, thus influencing power relations and the human rights debate. Not all the actors are equally powerful, meaning that the more dominant actors function as gatekeepers, controlling the debate and the subsequent decision-making process. The campaign Kony 2012 by Invisible Children (IC) is used as a case study to see whether, by observing the reaction the campaign elicited from two well-established gatekeepers (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch), this campaign by a previously relatively unknown non-governmental organisation (NGO) had affects on issue salience and on the power relations between human rights NGOs. The findings show that IC was able to generate a buzz with its Kony 2012 campaign. It was able momentarily to influence power relations by producing new ideas and content. Notwithstanding, the two established actors, however, were quick to maintain their power positions as gatekeepers, an issue much discussed by Bob and Carpenter. Although as a result the existing power relations remained unchanged at the end of the monitoring period, this case study shows that social media may lower the threshold for new actors, supporting Barzilai-Nahon’s notion of the power of less central actors in networks. ...