This study utilises a theoretical framework developed from the interpretive frames approach. I will offer a hermeneutic conception of ‘orientational frames’ that has a number of advantages over the more usual, largely positivist, application of the approach. This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork within the Sheffield Social Forum (SSF) from the inception of the group, through its involvement in a UK network of local social forums, to the attendance of members of the SSF at the 2004 edition of the European Social Forum. As such, it relates to processes at a number of levels: the creation of a local organisation; the networking of local organisations nationally; and their involvement in an international event. Data will be drawn from each of these levels in order to argue that despite important ideational continuities the SF movement contains substantially shifted emphases, and the development of novel connections between familiar ideas that signal a new politics of the social forums.
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