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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 11 Horvat, 1999; Rule, 1998), quit smoking (Romer, Jamison, & Ahern, 2001), and deal with death and dying (Eliason, 2000). While the definition of reframing is useful for this analysis, I use the concept in a different way. Rather than an explicit therapeutic technique, the Waco negotiations show how reframing is implicitly accomplished by Koresh and problematic for the negotiators. Reframing the situation meant defining it in terms of God’s plan. As the negotiators became mired in Koresh’s religious talk, reframing was evident in three ways: through lexical recontextualizing, divisive cooperation, cornering or frame trapping, and changing the contest. Lexical Recontextualizing Recontextualizing, according to Linell (1998), is a transferring and transforming of some part or aspect of a discourse or text from context to another, thereby reframing the central focus on that discourse. Important to point out is that it presupposes the understanding of two broad concepts, context and discourse. Linell describes discourse as “embedded in a matrix of contexts made up from an array of different contextual resources: people (and assumptions about people ) with their interpersonal relations various kinds of background knowledge, situation definitions (frames), models of topics talked about” (p. 144, italics in original). Using Goodwin and Duranti’s (1992) “figure-ground” description of context, Sarangi (1998) defines recontextualization as a “redefinition and re-evaluation of figure ground relations in and across ongoing interaction” (p. 305). In identifying different types of recontextualization, Linell (1998) attends to three “levels” of discourse: intra-textual, inter-textual, and inter-discursive. Intra-textual recontextualization involves new aspects of words, new stresses, or new formulations that occur within the same conversation or encounter focused on for analysis. Inter-textual

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 11
Horvat, 1999; Rule, 1998), quit smoking (Romer, Jamison, & Ahern, 2001), and deal with death
and dying (Eliason, 2000).
While the definition of reframing is useful for this analysis, I use the concept in a
different way. Rather than an explicit therapeutic technique, the Waco negotiations show how
reframing is implicitly accomplished by Koresh and problematic for the negotiators. Reframing
the situation meant defining it in terms of God’s plan. As the negotiators became mired in
Koresh’s religious talk, reframing was evident in three ways: through lexical recontextualizing,
divisive cooperation, cornering or frame trapping, and changing the contest.
Lexical Recontextualizing
Recontextualizing, according to Linell (1998), is a transferring and transforming of some
part or aspect of a discourse or text from context to another, thereby reframing the central focus
on that discourse. Important to point out is that it presupposes the understanding of two broad
concepts, context and discourse. Linell describes discourse as “embedded in a matrix of contexts
made up from an array of different contextual resources: people (and assumptions about people )
with their interpersonal relations various kinds of background knowledge, situation definitions
(frames), models of topics talked about” (p. 144, italics in original). Using Goodwin and
Duranti’s (1992) “figure-ground” description of context, Sarangi (1998) defines
recontextualization as a “redefinition and re-evaluation of figure ground relations in and across
ongoing interaction” (p. 305).
In identifying different types of recontextualization, Linell (1998) attends to three
“levels” of discourse: intra-textual, inter-textual, and inter-discursive. Intra-textual
recontextualization involves new aspects of words, new stresses, or new formulations that occur
within the same conversation or encounter focused on for analysis. Inter-textual


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