What is framing? 01
1. What is framing? 2. Which frames are used? 3. Why are frames important 4. Re-framing: which initiatives exist? 5. Communication checklist
1. What is framing?
‘Framing is the selection of topics, words, and images that evoke certain feelings, values, and ideas’ (Mirjam Vossen, Dutch journalist/ researcher).It determines how we perceive the world around us and how we act. According to George Lakoff, professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Berkeley, framing is a mental structure that people use to organise the world. Framing can be consciously used to influence another person, but we mostly frame unconsciously. Lakoff thus compares it to breathing: we are usually unaware of our frame of reference and how it affects our perception of the world around us. This frame of reference is formed by all of the experiences that we acquire in our lives. Because everyone has their own frame of reference, everyone frames things differently. Go to top
2. Which frames are used?
In development cooperation, a variety of frames are used. Here you can find a list of the most commonly used frames in development cooperation, as determined by Ms Mirjam Vossen in her forthcoming dissertation called ‘Framing Global Poverty’ (2014). Victim frame Human suffering is central to the framing of the victim. The poor suffer due to a lack of basic resources such as food, safety, shelter, water, and medical care. Read more Social justice frame Injustice and inequality are at the heart of the social justice frame. Read more Progress frame The progress frame regards poverty as a question of development lagging behind. Read more Our fault frame We have either caused or perpetuate the problems in developing countries. Read more Global Village frame The central theme in global village is that we are all in the same boat and that we have a shared responsibility to address global problems. Read more Go to top
3. Why are frames important?
What is it that make frames important? Frames address people’s values. Values are ideals, perceptions of desirable goals, that define the lives of individuals and groups. examples of values, for instance, are freedom, wisdom and self-discipline. Values are the basis of every behaviour, because they influence people’s goals; goals in turn influence attitudes; and attitudes influence behaviour. Examples of framing are:
- Tax relief (are taxes heavy?)
- Third World (so not the first place?)
- Development aid (not yet developed?)
- Mother Earth (warm and safe?)
4. Re-framing: which initiatives exist?
So, re-framing is the slogan. A variety of initiatives are already ongoing: World’s Best News “Good news is too often drowned out by bad news, so we put the good news forward.” This is the motto of World’s Best News. This enormously successful initiative by the United Nations, DANIDA (the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ development agency), businesses and NGOs carries the message that the Millennium Development Goals are working, that developing countries have recorded huge progress and that if everyone cooperates, eradicating poverty will be possible. Stop the Pity “It’s time for us to start viewing people in the developing world for who they really are instead of the stereotypes we’ve been trained to accept. It is time to Stop the Pity and unlock the potential!” Stop the Pity is a movement organised by the American non-profit organisation Mama Hope. Radi-Aid A few years ago, a YouTube video made by ‘Radi-Aid’ went viral across the globe. It turns the stereotypical fundraising video around by showing Africans collecting money to buy radiators for freezing Norwegian children. Recently, they had a new Facebook hit with ‘Who wants to be a volunteer?’ BrandOutLoud BrandOutLoud is a creative communications agency for non-profit organisations worldwide. They are dedicated to shaping a different perception of international cooperation. Photography and film play a major role in their work. Through ‘Empowering by Branding’, they are trying to fight the prevailing images on the spot together with local aid organisations. Working on branding and communication, the organization will be able to conveys its message even better. The people concerned are put in a central position and powerful images show the aid organisation’s strong identity. BrandOutLoud also produced a video in which they ask people in the Netherlands what sort of image they have of aid in Africa. This revealed that a better perception is urgently needed: Go to top
5. Communication checklist
- Voice from the developing countries
- Active cooperation partners
- Realistic and balanced
- Show impact
- The bigger picture
- Imagery is illustrative of the project
- Final check: an experiment in thought