What is framing?
Framing is the practice of influencing how people think and feel about issues by encouraging them to think about them in a particular way. This is done with language that conjures up and appeals to images and values that people know and understand deeply.
The political Right is masterful at framing issues in ways that glorify business and individual achievement and disparage public enterprise. Consider the words "tax relief" with "tax fairness", "bureaucrat" with "public servant", "troop surge" with "escalation", "conflict" with "occupation". Each pairing presents an issue seen from the right-wing frame and from the Common Good, or Public Values, Frame.
Linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff has been credited with helping American Democrats successfully challenge the Bush Republicans. He believes that, in an environment where right-wing frames often go unchallenged, "reframing" is necessary.
"Reframing is telling the truth as we see it: telling it forcefully, straightforwardly, articulately, with moral conviction and without hesitation. The language must fit the conceptual reframing: a reframing from the perspective of progressive morality. It is not just a matter of words, though the right words do help evoke a progressive frame: paying their fair share, those who have received more, the infrastructure of wealth, and so on.
"Reframing requires a rewiring of the brain. That may take an investment of time, effort, and money. The conservatives have realized that. They made the investment and it is paying off. Moral: The truth alone will not set you free. It has to be framed correctly."
Links and sources
Golden Lake Institute