THE DISCOURSE OF DEMOBILIZATION: Shifts in Activist Priorities and the Framing of Political Opportunities in a Peasant Land Struggle


*Lisa Kowalchuk, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; e-mail:


This paper integrates the political opportunity and framing paradigms to analyze the discursive processes that were involved in the demobilization of a peasant land struggle in El Salvador. The framing paradigm provides a basis for analyzing how activist rhetoric shapes interpretations of opportunities and grievances among social movement participants to alter the goals and intensity of grassroots protest. As the land struggle demonstrates, leaders communicating with grassroots participants in a process of struggle may, over time, underemphasize shifts occurring in some dimensions of political opportunities, while framing more stable dimensions as having changed. They may also alter their framing of grievances.