Movement frames and African women's explanations for opposing female genital cutting

Heger Elizabeth Boyle, Kristin Carbone-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This article addresses how people account for their beliefs and what social factors affect or determine those accounts. Considering the explanations women in five African countries give for their opposition to female genital cutting (FGC), we empirically examine the link between movement adherence and frame resonance. Although international anti-FGC activists employ medical and human rights frames to combat the practice, we find most of the women surveyed do not use these frames to account for their opposition to FGC. Rather, they tend to explain their opposition simply by stating female genital cutting is a 'bad tradition.' Based on descriptive statistics and the results of HGLM analyses, we conclude that 1) the importance of frame resonance for movement adherence varies across groups, 2) frame resonance is less important to 'adherents' whose supportive attitudes predate mobilization, 3) personal factors, such as being circumcised, exposure to western influence, and independence, increase the likelihood that adherents will link into international activist frames, and 4) the medical frame is more persuasive than the human rights frame for African anti-FGC adherents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-465
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
4 Since 1974, the Demographic and Health Surveys project has coordinated nearly 200 surveys in more than 70 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The program is funded by the US Agency for International Development. Each survey is executed in four steps. The first step involves designing the sample, developing the survey questionnaires, translating the survey into local languages, pre-testing, and finalizing the survey. During the second stage, interviewers are hired locally, trained extensively, and then sent into the field. During the next stage, as the data are being coded, DHS staff members conduct verification of responses and check for consistency across interviewers. Finally, DHS staff members analyze the data and prepare a final report.


  • Female genital cutting
  • Frame resonance
  • Neo-institutionalism


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