The Importance of Cultural Framing

Introduction

Setting the premises for a conflict, cultural frames determine the scope of the vision of the world for a specific social or ethnic group. Preventing the members of the groups in question from seeing past the frames set by the philosophy, which they created, the given phenomenon explains basically any conflict, and nowhere are the effects of cultural framing as obvious as in the infamous case of Muslim martyrs. At first, the conflict in the specified case can be interpreted as the misconception about the gender roles and, therefore, may deserve an insight from the perspective of the feminist theory. A second look at the subject matter, however, will reveal that the religious conflict is added to the problem since it is the Muslim culture and the philosophy of Islam that defines the frames for the conflict under analysis, as the case study carried out by Khan1 shows.

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Main Body

According to the existing definition of the issue, the phenomenon of the cultural frames, commonly known as the cultural framing, is traditionally known as the “shared meanings held by individuals that shape their understandings of situations and guide their actions within an organization.”2

A closer look at the situation, which occurs in the contemporary Muslim society, will reveal that the religious and cultural traditions, which have been viewed as an integral part of the Muslim identity, push the important aspects of specific events and phenomena into the background, making people focus on the formal details. The combination of women’s participation in social movements and the notorious issue of women’s rights in Islamic states is a prime example of the phenomenon of framing. For instance, even being an essential member of a certain social movement and later on considered a martyr to the regime, a woman may be shunned for not complying with the religious norms, e.g., wearing a hijab, as Sally Zahran’s case sows in a very graphic manner. As the existing evidence says, the vandalism action of scribbling one of the martyrs’ faces out of the poster triggered a major conflict due to the difference in the culture frames of the opponents: “The reason this poster caused outrage was that one of the twelve faces had been scribbled out by a blue felt-tipped pen: it was the female martyr on the poster: Sally Zahran.”3

The case study under analysis is a very graphic representation of the cultural framing phenomenon set in motion. In fact, the aforementioned case study allows viewing several examples of cultural framing, including the religious one, the gender-related frame, and the one concerning the political convictions fostered within the specified environment. When combined into a single approach towards distributing gender and social roles among the residents, the above-mentioned frames become a powerful tool for enhancing discrimination and disparaging specific groups based on their gender, ethnicity, etc.4

The gender issue represented in the case, however, seems to be the most graphic example of culture frames set within a specific community. Particularly, the violation of women’s basic human rights as the means to avenge the Kashmiri people and their families deserves to be mentioned. The attitude, which the Kashmir residents view as a norm when communicating with women in the environment of their households, is considered atrocious by the representatives of other cultures, including not only the European but also the Arab ones.

While the reasons for the specified phenomenon to occur may be attributed to a range of factors, including the economic one, the political environment, which the ethnicity in question has been exposed to for a considerable time period, seems to be one of the key factors in shaping the attitude towards women among the Kashmir people: “The anarchy that pervades the cultural and political fabric of Indian-administered J & K has been stoked by government-sponsored militants and foreign mercenaries.”5

In the specified case, the cultural farming owes a significant part of its existence to the militarization of the area and, therefore, the bellicose air, which most of the denizens of the local population have been exposed to for quite a while. As Khan explains, “Such an unwieldy situation has rendered women psychologically incarcerated (ibid.), and does not enable an autonomous life, devoid of the pressures that people of the state have been subjected to since 1947.” 6

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It is quite peculiar, though, that, despite refusing from acknowledging the rights of women, the proponents of the Kashmiri movement still promote the mobilization of women. The phenomenon in question, in fact, should also be referred to as farming, seeing that the adepts of the political movement in question view women as capable of fighting for certain political and religious goals, i.e., the former recognize women’s rights to participate in political movements.7

However, when it comes to providing women with the basic human rights, including the right to be protected from emotional and physical abuse, the Kashmiri people promoting the above-mentioned political changes seem to consider women subordinate to men; thus, the principle of gender equity works only when it comes to distributing military responsibilities between men and women. The phenomenon in question is a clear-cut case of framing, with the necessity to engage more people into military actions, or the absence thereof sets the frames for the perception of women’s role in the community8

It should be noted that the instance of cultural framing represented in the study is not the only case of gender-based framing in the Middle East. As it has been stressed above, even the martyrdom of women is questioned unless these women comply with the gender roles that they are assigned by society. The principle of framing, however, also works in a different way, enabling the Middle East women to participate in military actions despite the roles that they are associated with according to their gender once the necessity to increase the number of soldiers emerges.

Conclusion

Cultural framing is one of the most biased and, nevertheless, the most inescapable phenomena in the modern culture, and nowhere is the specified issue seen as clearly as in some of the radical Middle East movements. At this point, the issue of cultural framing often meets the problem of gender profiling and the lack of equity in some of the Middle East cultures; as a result, the image of a woman and, therefore, the roles that she is assigned within the Middle East society often appear to be framed once the cultural principles of the communities in question are applied to the evaluation. Being very clear examples of the problem, the cases of Sally Zahran and the Kashmir woman show the necessity to get rid of the approach that involves cultural framing for the sake of justice and equity.

Bibliography

Ambrust, Walter. “The Ambivalence of Martyrs and the Counter-revolution.” Cultural Anthropology. 2013. Web.

Fischer, Michael M. J. “The Rhythmic Beat of the Revolution in Iran.” Cultural Anthropology 25, no. 3 (2009), 497–543. Web.

Howard-Genville, Jennifer A. and Andrew J. Hoffman. “The Importance of Cultural Framing to the Success of Initiatives in Business.” Academy of Management Executive 17, no. 2 (2003): 70–84. Web.

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Nyla Ali Khan, “Negotiating the Boundaries of Gender, Community and Nationhood: A Case Study of Kashmir,” Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies: Alam-e-Niswan 18, no. 1 (2012): 1–30. Web.

Schoenberger‐Orgad, Michèle and Toledano, Margalit. “Strategic Framing: Indigenous Culture, Identity, and Politics.” Journal of Public Affairs 11, no. 4 (2011): 325­–333. Web.

Vicari, Stefania. “The Spatialities of Contentious Politics.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 33, no. 2 (2014): 157–172. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Nyla Ali Khan, “Negotiating the Boundaries of Gender, Community and Nationhood: A Case Study of Kashmir,” Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies: Alam-e-Niswan 18, no. 1 (2012): 10. Web.
  2. Jennifer A. Howard-Grenville and Andrew J. Hoffman, “The Importance of Cultural Framing to the Success of Initiatives in Business,” Academy of Management Executive 17, no. 2 (2003): 72. Web.
  3. Walter Armbrust, “The Ambivalence of Martyrs and the Counter-revolution,” Cultural Anthropology. Web.
  4. Michael M. J. Fischer, “The Rhythmic Beat of the Revolution in Iran,” Cultural Anthropology 25, no. 3 (2009), 498. Web.
  5. Nyla Ali Khan, “Negotiating the Boundaries of Gender, Community and Nationhood: A Case Study of Kashmir,” Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies: Alam-e-Niswan 18, no. 1 (2011): p. 3. Web.
  6. Nyla Ali Khan, “Negotiating the Boundaries of Gender, Community and Nationhood: A Case Study of Kashmir,” Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies: Alam-e-Niswan 18, no. 1 (2011): p. 3. Web.
  7. Michèle Schoenberger‐Orgad and Toledano, Margalit, “Strategic Framing: Indigenous Culture, Identity, and Politics,” Journal of Public Affairs 11, no. 4 (2011): 330. Web.
  8. Stefania Vicari, “The Spatialities of Contentious Politics,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 33, no. 2 (2014): 167. Web.
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