Monday, January 28, 2008


Purple Cauliflower
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
I have been thinking some more about framing since my last post. Wikipedia tells that a frame in social theory consists of a schema of interpretation that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events.

Seemingly, a person constantly projects into the world around them the interpretive frames that allow them to make sense of it; we only shift frames (or realize that we have habitually applied a frame) when incongruity calls for a frame shift. In other words, we only become aware of the frames that we always already use when something forces us to replace one frame with another. An individual can effectively set an agenda by consistently invoking a particular frame. The framing party may then control discussion and perception of the issue.

Of course as I write this the South Carolina primary is well behind us, but in hindsight, framing was well illustrated for me in an NPC piece a few weeks ago. A reporter questioned three black women, high up in the Democrats political machine, about their preferences for Clinton or Obama. They all admitted to being in a quandary, ‘do I vote for Clinton because she is a woman like me, or do I vote for Obama because he is black like me?’

You call that a question? It falls in to the trap of choosing the language to define a debate and, more important, with fitting individual issues into the contexts of broader story lines. [The Framing Wars. New York Times July 17, 2005]. The question should be - “Who has the most potential to be a good president?” The rest is merely commentary.

By the way, how does purple cauliflower grab you?

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