Extant research on social movements has highlighted activists’ discursive tactics to challenge the state, yet little analytical attention focuses on elite efforts to dominate the discourse arena through the deployment of oppositional frames. This paper analyzes elite oppositional framing surrounding the placement of a highway bypass in the Czech Republic. Our research examines how democratic states deploy oppositional frames and enlist elite countermovement support for their efforts to obstruct challenges. Using a range of data sources, we delineate the mechanisms used by these elite actors to vilify and stigmatize environmental activists, paving the way for more violent forms of public harassment. The concept we initiate, discursive obstruction, adds the critical dimension of power relations to analyses of both framing processes and discursive opportunity structures. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for social movement research.


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pp. 873-893
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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