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Framing Public Discussion of Gay Civil Unions
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing Public Discussion 14 were no significant differences between the two frame conditions in group size (t = .211, n.s.); political leanings (t = -.186, n.s.) or the average number of times participants had attended previous events (t = 1.543, n.s.). Measurement of Variables In the discussions of gay civil unions, close to 1,000 statements were entered into the online debate. The full text of all online discussions was recorded and subsequently examined through both a content analysis and a qualitative assessment. Qualitative assessments. The group discussions were reviewed with an eye toward identifying themes that reflected morality, religious authority, family values, and concern about “right and wrong,” (all reflective of a morality frame and presumably resonant with the “homosexual marriage / special rights” prompt). Similarly, the discussions were evaluated for references to equality, access to health and tax benefits, fairness, and tolerance (reflective of an equality frame and presumably resonant with the “civil unions / equal rights” prompt). Quantitative assessments. The content analysis gathered measures of: (a) the number of valenced statements each participant made about civil unions (i.e., statements that were positive or negative in valence, but which did not give any reasons for these feelings); (b) the number of arguments each participant made about the civil unions (i.e., statements that gave some form of reason for a pro- or con- evaluation of the societal advantages or disadvantages of gay marriage). Thus, an argument expressed both directionality (pro/con) and provided a reason, while valenced statement expressed only directionality. The coding system was not intended to capture the potential truth-value of an argument, nor its complexity; it merely took account of whether some kind of reason was advanced. Reliability of the coding was assessed using two independent coders on random sub-

Authors: Price, Vincent., Nir, Lilach. and Cappella, Joseph.
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Framing Public Discussion
14
were no significant differences between the two frame conditions in group size (t = .211, n.s.);
political leanings (t = -.186, n.s.) or the average number of times participants had attended
previous events (t = 1.543, n.s.).
Measurement of Variables
In the discussions of gay civil unions, close to 1,000 statements were entered into the
online debate. The full text of all online discussions was recorded and subsequently examined
through both a content analysis and a qualitative assessment.
Qualitative assessments. The group discussions were reviewed with an eye toward
identifying themes that reflected morality, religious authority, family values, and concern about
“right and wrong,” (all reflective of a morality frame and presumably resonant with the
“homosexual marriage / special rights” prompt). Similarly, the discussions were evaluated for
references to equality, access to health and tax benefits, fairness, and tolerance (reflective of an
equality frame and presumably resonant with the “civil unions / equal rights” prompt).
Quantitative assessments. The content analysis gathered measures of: (a) the number of
valenced statements each participant made about civil unions (i.e., statements that were positive
or negative in valence, but which did not give any reasons for these feelings); (b) the number of
arguments each participant made about the civil unions (i.e., statements that gave some form of
reason for a pro- or con- evaluation of the societal advantages or disadvantages of gay marriage).
Thus, an argument expressed both directionality (pro/con) and provided a reason, while
valenced statement expressed only directionality. The coding system was not intended to capture
the potential truth-value of an argument, nor its complexity; it merely took account of whether
some kind of reason was advanced.
Reliability of the coding was assessed using two independent coders on random sub-


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