To L. Hyde: When does reframing work?

By Steven J Tepper
To Lewis Hyde's question: When does reframing work? I think the history of social movement scholarship would suggest that reframing works if:
  1. the new frame is resonant with the belief, values and cognitive orientation of targeted audiences; and
  2. when activists find that the old frames are increasingly unhelpful in their work and are actively looking for new frames.
Also, a frame doesn't just succeed or fail on its own.There are many strategies for making a frame more powerful.
  1. You can "amplify" the frame, e.g. excavate the core values and beliefs underlying the frame and make those more salient. So amplifying the "expressive life" frame might include focusing on the idea that Americans believe in self-determination, or emphasizing that expressive life is an antidote to both big government and big corporations; or that expressive life is about freedom and/or the pursuit of happiness.
  2. You can "extend" the frame by connecting it to other frames or other issues where there are natural allies/constituents who might be sympathetic to your frame but currently view the world through a different lens.
Here I think "expressive life" can be extended to social movements organized around media rights, or localism, or media literacy, or even spiritual and self-help movements.
January 25, 2010 2:23 PM | | Comments (0) |

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This Conversation Are the terms "Art" and "Culture" tough enough to frame a public policy carve-out for the 21st century? Are the old familiar words, weighted with multiple meanings and unhelpful preconceptions, simply no longer useful in analysis or advocacy? In his book, Arts, Inc., Bill Ivey advances "Expressive Life" as a new, expanded policy arena - a frame sufficiently robust to stand proudly beside "Work Life," "Family Life," "Education," and "The Environment." Is Ivey on the right track, or more

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