In this conceptual paper, a model of issue evolution that departs from orthodox 'natural history' or 'life-cycle' frameworks is presented. Adopting a symbolic interactionist perspective, it is argued that social issues should be interpreted as socially constructed disruptions of an institutional order that structures purposeful exchanges between actors. Under these conditions, issue evolution resembles an ongoing sense-giving battle in which actors seek to restore the order by imposing their unique solution preferences on the situation. This conceptualization acknowledges that the essence of many social problems is a socially constructed reality that exists primarily in the minds of the disputants.

ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Corporate Reputation Review
Erasmus Research Institute of Management