Sociology ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation explores the oppositional framing techniques used by actors in the United States anti-human trafficking (AHT) campaign. Theoretically based in symbolic interactionism, I conduct a frame analysis of 12 years of newspaper articles (2000-2012), which comprises the official discourse of the AHT campaign in the United States. I unpack three frame disputes, where claims are challenged and the challenges are rebutted in three primary disputes: 1) the characteristics and experiences of human trafficking victims, 2) the credibility of quantitative estimates of the prevalence of human trafficking, and 3) the justification for the development of new AHT policy tools. Using inductive data analysis methods, I analyze the frames, counterframes, and reframes as they are embedded in the official anti-human trafficking discourse. I reveal a campaign where dominant actors use reframing strategies in concert to accomplish three larger discursive goals: 1) to veil inconsistencies and contradictions in their claims; 2) to insulate their claims from further scrutiny; and 3) to justify the continued interventions on the campaigns behalf. By identifying how reframing strategies are used in concert with each other to serve as damage control functions, I contribute to a greater understanding of oppositional framing strategies.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Advisor

Tiano, Susan

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lyons, Christopher

Second Committee Member

Santoro, Wayne

Third Committee Member

Crandall, Cameron


human trafficking, discourse, symbolic interactionism, framing, social movements, gender, qualitative



Document Type