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Adjudicating Frame Shifts and Frame Disputes in the New Millennial University: The Role of the Dean

Roberta G. Lessor
The American Sociologist
Vol. 39, No. 2/3, Sociologists and Administrators (June-September 2008), pp. 114-129
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41217775
Page Count: 16
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Adjudicating Frame Shifts and Frame Disputes in the New Millennial University: The Role of the Dean
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Abstract

This paper argues that sociological theory provides a sound basis for analyzing the social organization and reorganization of the college or university and for guiding the activities of the college dean. Frame analysis theory, developed in the study of social movements, and the attendant concepts of frame shifts and frame disputes, are drawn on to facilitate understanding of the organizational change being experienced by many comprehensive universities today. Various university constituencies proffer sometimes competing frames that can be characterized as "old school" vs. "new school" or "theoretical" vs. "practical," yet collective and at least moderately harmonious action is required to attend to the tasks at hand. More specifically, the processes of frame alignment detailing the way that the frames held by various individuals and groups link to larger frames, offer a valuable theoretical tool for a dean. The dean's task is one of adjudicating frame disputes within the college, navigating frame shifts in the university and refraining the concerns of the college to both internal and external audiences. The author concludes that the use of frame analysis demonstrates that sociological theory can be a vital contributor to the leadership of colleges and universities and to leaders' understanding of the changes occurring therein.

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