framing (social sciences)
Public lobbying and issue advocacy is usually crippled by a lack of knowledge that political and public relations professionals share: deep framing. An academic introduction at from Wikipedia is useful but the the US Democratic Party's dkosopedia wiki page 'framing' is more practical for advocates and activists:
- "The process of framing is changing the images, conceptual metaphors, and analogies that are implied by political languages." In particular the use of spin terms (like free trade) or conceptual metaphors (like citizen as taxpayer or economic growth as plant growth compared to economic growth as cancerous growth).
- "The concept of framing goes back to philosophical and linguistic explanations of how humans think.
The premise of framing is that knowledge is contained in conceptual structures that encode how we believe the world is structured. When humans perceive, especially when they perceive communications from other humans, they match those perceptions with these conceptual structures. This matching provides meaning to the perceptions in terms of established structures in the mind. If the matching is imperfect, then humans sometimes adjust these conceptual structures to obtain a better match. But, they also sometimes alter their memory of their perceptions to match the conceptual structure. As humans think, they use associations with these frames to hold context for the concepts in their thoughts. It is therefore sometimes difficult to think outside these frames. In addition, natural connections within the frames make it easier to make certain logical deductions." These tend to be extremely stable, reinforced in family and friend usage, and especially by repetition in the media. A spin term (like pro-life) effectively becomes somehow real for those who often use it or allow it to be used in their presence without objection.
- "Liberals and conservatives, due to their experiences and probably due to predispositions in their brains, typically have significantly different frames for much of the world. For example, the “personal responsibility” frame may be far different for conservatives, who consider it more of an absolute, than for liberals, who may believe that the world puts severe limits on what individuals can reasonably do. The result is that any discussion of how much society (through the government) should help individuals in given situations will be considered in radically different contexts for liberals and conservatives. Each will make significantly different deductions based on premises or facts offered on either side."
- "It is therefore important to use language activating frames that will allow liberals to make their best arguments, and to stay away from frames that give the advantage to the opposition."
Dkosopedia explains also how to use attack frames, defense frames, and more neutral issue/position/argument pages to compile all the positions and arguments in rational form. Another mechanism is a term:namespace to contain terms that need comment but the editors or publishers do not wish to endorse as a practical term of discourse, e.g. term:pro-life.
How to frame things
"Abstractly, framing works like this: The reframe:namespace is for the obvious stuff that anyone can do. The end result of that is just more pages in main namespace that define things properly. In general, framing works like this:
- Identify specific claims that can be challenged, in claim:namespace
- Identify faulty political language, putting it in term:namespace
- Explain the problem clearly, using neutral point of view terminology
- Estimate the cost of not doing repairs, with simple cost arguments
- Realign the frame, by making careful issue statements
- Provide new language for immediate use, via positions on the issue
- Reinforce existing language using the reframe:namespace on each questionable term.
The end result will be relatively friendly debating terms in main namespace and an issue/position/argument statement that can be easily backed with evidence/source/authority that the public will trust. It will be free of the kind of noise found in the term:namespace or Fox News."