July 7th, 2006

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Linguistics; political language; framing and misframing...

You'll find an article on misframing -- titled "Crucial Issues Not Addressed in the Immigration Debate: Why Deep Framing Matters," by George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson -- at http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/research/lakoff/imm-response .

"Our job at Rockridge is to make the public conscious of the framing in political discourse -- including their own framing. Marc Cooper is a good example of what goes wrong when you engage in framing but are not aware of what you are doing. Cooper repeatedly misframes framing 'as a matter of simple wordplay' (in The Atlantic Monthly, March 15, 2005). "
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Linguistics; sampler on framing and reframing...

Sampler of quotations on framing and reframing....

From Reframing, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, published by Real People Press in 1982:

1. "The meaning that any event has depends upon the 'frame' in which we perceive it. When we change the frame, we change the meaning. ... This is called reframing: changing the frame in which a person perceives events in order to change the meaning. When the meaning changes, the person's responses and behaviors also change." (page 1)

2. "Reframes are not con-jobs. What makes a reframe work is that it adheres to the well-formedness conditions of a particular person's needs. It's not a deceptive device. It's actually accurate. The best reframes are the ones which are as valid a way of looking at the world as the way the person sees things now. ...You have to find a valid set of perceptions in terms of that particular person's model of the world." (page 42)

From More On the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (for which I'm responsible), published by Prentice Hall in 1983:

3. Sometimes a new fact or concept comes along in the real world and clashes violently with the reality consensus but cannot be avoided or hidden away. When that happens, the entire culture will go into a kind of squirming effort to force the new bit of reality into the existing framework. We have seen this human tendency at work in the recent discoveries about pain and painkillers. Once we had evidence that painkilling drugs work by locking into specific receiving sites in the brain -- at actual anatomical sites, not figurative ones -- we had a real problem with the equally inescapable evidence that pain can be eliminated without drugs. An immediate search for some way to fit all this into one reality resulted in the 'discovery' that the brain... manufactures its own 'painkilling drugs,' which lock into anatomical receiving sites just as morphine does. It was then possible to be comfortable with the known facts about pain again.

Our reality statement about the manner in which pain is eliminated from human consciousness required a chemical component. Hypnosis, because it does not include introduction of chemicals into the body, was an embarrassment... We already had our conclusion, and we were not anxious to give it up; we therefore set out to find a way of cramming hypnosis into that conclusion. And sure enough, now that we knew where to look, we managed to 'discover' the solution." (pp. 180-181)

4. "If you are being John Wayne and the person you are interacting with has the Happy Factory as a metaphor, nothing is going to work very well until you find a niche for John Wayne inside the Happy Factory reality (or until one of you is willing or able to switch metaphors, at least temporarily)." (pp. 192-193)

5. "The staffs of bureaucracies are faced with absurdity all day long, every day. They have to function surrounded by nonsense that no logical person could defend. ... If they have money left over at the end of the year they can't return it to the central treasury it came from; they have to spend it, even if they don't need anything -- otherwise, their budget will be cut and they might not have enough money next year. They have to submit budgets and schedules three years in advance when they know perfectly well, and the people they submit them to know perfectly well, that there's no way they can possibly have any idea what their budget or schedule will be even six months from now, much less three years. Nothing makes any sense, but they can't just sit around and laugh. They must behave as if it did make sense.

The only way people can function in such a system and maintain either sanity or self-respect is to staunchly insist inside themselves that the whole thing is just a game, with no real-world effects. And the Game Of Life metaphor will then provide a set of reality statements to go by while they are at work." (page 188)

6. "Consider the librarian who rigidly limits everyone to only one book if he can, never offers to help anyone find a book, slaps on overdue fines for late books even if you were in the hospital, and so on. A library is a kind of bureaucracy, but this librarian doesn't seem to be involved in the game. What could be going on?

There are at least two possible ways to view a library.

A. A library is a mechanism for getting as many books as possible read by as many people as possible (the metaphor of the library as Fountain of Knowledge).

B. A library is a mechanism for storing books so that you will always know where each one of them is at any moment (the metaphor of the library as Safe Repository of Knowledge).

A librarian who happens to subscribe to the second metaphor doesn't really want anybody to check out books. He is responsible within that metaphor for seeing to it that every book is in its designated place on the shelves at all times." (page 189)