What the Occupy Wall Street movement is doing, is questioning the entire system itself.
A good example of this can be seen with the Occupy Wall Street Oakland chapter. What happened was the city had removed their camp near City Hall Plaza. This is in response to reports of: deaths, drug use and unsanitary conditions. At the same time, the resources of the police department were stressed to the point that they were unable to deal with possible issues affecting the safety of the community. This is when the police raided the encampment and dispersed the protestors from the area. In response to what was happening, the Oakland chapter decided to begin occupying foreclosed homes and privately owned vacant lots near City Hall Plaza. As, they are trying to illustrate how: the risky activities of bankers contributed to the financial crisis by staying in these locations. This is significant, because it is showing how the movement is using the structural frame to point out the problem and how something must be done to resolve the issue. (Harrison, 2011) (Collins, 2011)
As far as Penn State is concerned, the structural frame allowed the university to support and protect Sandusky's activities through looking the other way. This emboldened him to engage in behavior that was even more brazen. A good example of this can be seen with fact that Joe Paterno knew about these allegations going back to 1999 when he allowed Sandusky to retire from coaching. This is based on reports that he had sexually abused an 11-year-old boy in Penn State's locker room. Then, in 2002 when this was reported to him again, by a graduate student involving a 10-year-old boy in the shower. Paterno immediately informed Timothy M. Curley (the athletic director). At which point, Curley had a meeting with the eyewitness, Gary Shultz (Senior Vice President for Finance and Business) and Graham Spainer (the University President). Their response to these events was: to take Sandusky's key to the locker room and tell his charity (the Second Mile) of his activities. This is significant, because the inability of the university to bring in the police is an obvious sign that the entire system supported Sandusky. The reason why is because they did not want to hurt Joe Paterno. This is when they would give Sandusky a slap on the wrist (making things worse). As a result, this is an illustration of how the structural framework can make an incident even more volatile (Medina, 2011)
The Symbolic Frame
The symbolic frame is when you are looking at events that are occurring and associating them with powerful symbols that will instill tremendous amounts of feelings. ("Organizational Symbols and Culture," n.d, pp. 251 -- 267) In the case of the Occupy Wall Street San Francisco chapter they have been engaging in instances of civil disobedience. Evidence of this can be seen with protestors pitching a tent in the Bank of America Center and demanding to speak with board members. This is significant, because the San Francisco protests are targeting one of the financial institutions that contributed to the financial crisis. As, this is showing how these protests are using B. Of A to: highlight the way administrators and board members must be held accountable for their actions. ("Occupy SF," 2011)
At the same time, the pitching of tents in the lobby is a sign to these financial firms that protestors are not going anywhere until their issues are addressed. This helps resolve the problems contributing to the financial crisis through showing the anger of the public about what is happening. Once this occurs, is when government officials and regulators will begin limiting the activities banks are involved in. Over the course of time, this will create a change in the financial regulations and how they are enforced. As a result, the movement is pushing for possible changes that will protect the interests of the general public. ("Occupy SF," 2011)
In the case of Penn State, Joe Paterno is a symbol of the establishment at the school. Where, his history with: the board and success on the football field made him a symbol of the school itself. To protect him, university administrators were handling the ongoing reports of sexual abuses by Sandusky gently. Once this occurred, it made the situation worse, as his behavior became even more brazen in the future. This is important, because it is illustrating how the symbolic frame created an environment that did not want to harm Joe Paterno and his legacy. (Medina, 2011)
Clearly, the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Penn State scandal are illustrating how there are different techniques that are used to influence the ideas of stakeholders in a variety of situations. These include: the power of reframing, the structural frame and the symbolic frame. In each of these situations, there was a change in perceptions about what taking place surrounding a host of incidents. In the case of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Oakland and San Francisco, there has been an emphasis on how financial firms are contributing the stagnant economy. This is accomplished through changing the way everyone is looking at what is happening (the power of reframing), criticizing the structure of these firms (the structural frame) and illustrating how their status is impacting how they are treated (the symbolic frame).
While the situation with Penn State, is highlighting how these factors contributed to making a bad incident worse. This is because they created an atmosphere where everyone was looking the other way (i.e. The power of reframing). At the same time, the institution itself supported these activities (i.e. The structural frame). What prevented them from taking further action is because they did not want to hurt Joe Paterno and his image. This is troubling, because it allowed Sandusky to sexually abuse one child after another. Over the course of time, this made the situation worse by protecting him when it was clear that he was breaking the law.
These different elements are important, because they are showing how public administrators must maintain a balance when someone is attempting to change the arguments surrounding specific events. In some cases, this can mean that this will help to invite a long-term change. While at the same time, it could also make a situation worse, as this creates an environment that will protect illegal and immoral activities. For public administrators, they must be watchful of how these designations are applied.