(un)common ground

a commonplace book

The Rhetoric of Frames

Framing is an important way in which the media emphasize some ideological perspectives and manipulate salience by directing people’s attention to certain ideas while ignoring others. As such, a frame constitutes a story line or an unfolding narrative about an issue. These narratives organize experience and bring order to events. As such, they wield power because they influence how we make sense of the world.

Diana Kendall, Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America (2011)

This of course has to do with rhetoric, but, as suggested by some framing analysts, such narrative-making can be relatively unconscious. Such is the power of ideology.

A key takeaway here is the implication that the same set of data can be used for different, sometimes contradictory ends and/or understood in contradictory ways. It seems to me that the human mind tends toward narrative, which is the organization that Kendall refers to. We naturally, unconsciously and consciously organize our perceptions and the data that we receive–indeed, other entire narratives–into connected shapes with implications and effective power. This is what “making sense of the world” is. The same ability that enables humanity to understand truth leading to the most beneficial actions it has ever taken also enables it to construct conspiracy theories, superstitions, and prejudices leading to its worst evils.


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This entry was posted on August 16, 2015 by and tagged , , , .
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