Monday, July 18, 2005

Framed and Filtered

George Lakoff -- the linguistics professor-cum-communications consultant for progressives -- is the subject of the cover story in this week's Sunday New York Times Magazine. Author Matt Bai pulls no punches with the Berkeley prof, who has made as many enemies as friends in his quest to educate Democrats on the communication strategies used by Republicans. While generally dismissive of Lakoff's long-term influence, the article is certain to generate debate on the true art (if not science) of "framing," and whether it adds anything new to the theory and practice of "positioning."

We do think that Lakoff and company are onto something slightly new -- the notion that people generally vote based on their identities, which are formed largely by their notion of "family." True or false, this is worth investigating further, and it is worth exploring whether there are applications in the corporate context. In the meantime, Bai and other critics may have framed "framing" into disrepute; it'll be interesting to see if the term survives.

BTW, Matt ... the "father of framing" is not Lakoff, as you wrote, but Erving Goffman, an academic who came long before Luntz, Lakoff, and all the new propagandists. Looks like your "founding father" frame got "activated."

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