Frames are mental models which are used in discourses to understand the world around us. Discourses are non-physical spaces in which meaning is constructed. In this thesis, I used the concept of frames to understand how discourses around the privatization of the German railway company “Deutsche Bahn” (DB) in 2007-2008 were constructed. In this privatization effort Astroturf lobbying tactics were deployed. Astroturf lobbying is the faking of citizens support in order to influence policymakers. Using frame analysis, a subfield of political discourse analysis, I analyzed which frames were used in the three discourses of the astroturfing campaign, parliamentary speeches and media and how they were constructed. Based on defining legitimacy as credibility, will of the people and voice, I also analyzed how these frames are constructed in terms of legitimacy. Formulated as analogies, I called the detected frames “an engine needs an overhaul from time to time to work properly again”, “a new heart will provide new life for an otherwise healthy body”, “killing two birds with one stone”, “polishing the paint makes the car shiny”, “the devil is in the details” and “rejecting the premise”. While all three discourses had different frames dominating them, the “the devil is in the details” frame came up often in both the parliamentary speeches discourse and the media discourse. This frame shows nuance in the discussion of the privatization. The astroturfing discourse was dominated by pro-privatization language. Legitimacy frames only played a bigger role in the parliamentary speeches discourse, where legitimacy as credibility was often used. Connections between the discourses or between the general frames and the legitimacy frames could not be identified on a great scale. Being conscious of frames in policy processes could help actors to better understand positions of other actors.

Dr. Wouter Spekkink, Dr. Adria Albareda
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Nils Eichhorst. (2022, July 24). Framing Privatization – A Discourse Analysis on the Privatization of the “Deutsche Bahn”. Public Administration. Retrieved from