Since 1999, a rare collaboration between communications scholars and practitioners at FrameWorks Institute has worked to develop a new approach to explaining social issues to the public.
Strategic Frame Analysis® is a proprietary approach to communications research and practice that pays attention to the public's deeply held worldviews and widely held assumptions. This approach was developed at the FrameWorks Institute using a multi-disciplinary approach to evaluate the effects of various frame elements on support for social policies. Recognizing that there is more than one way to tell a story, Strategic Frame Analysis® taps into decades of research on how people think and communicate. The result is an empirically-driven communications process that makes academic research understandable, interesting, and usable to help people solve social problems.
Quite simply, framing refers to the subtle selection of certain aspects of an issue in order to cue a specific response; as many researchers have shown, the way an issue is framed explains who is responsible, and suggests potential solutions. FrameWorks’ unique approach to framing has identified and enumerated a set of frame elements that convey meaning and affect the way that people respond to an issue. These include values, metaphors, narrative, messengers, and more. The advantage of strategic frame analysis® is that it allows the research to document and deconstruct the frames currently in the public consciousness and to understand their impact on public policy preferences. Additionally, it allows us to test and validate, through different disciplines, both the negative frames and the potential positive reframes that can further an issue's salience. Finally, the effectiveness of the recommendations we make can be demonstrated; while we hope we are "creative" in our approach to communications, our findings are rooted in the social and cognitive sciences. We can explain what works and why it works, and demonstrate this across the research.
How can you learn more about strategic frame analysis®? Click on the links below to read more about strategic frame analysis® and how it can be applied to non-profit communications and advocacy.