Posted by: Mike Plett | April 17, 2014

Framing analysis and framing effects

In discussing framing analysis, it may be useful to consider French sociologist Greimas’ scheme of semiotic narrative analysis from which he was able to distill “primordial structural relations” — dichotomies such as sender vs. receiver — from texts (Peräkylä, 2011). As strategic communicators, I think it’s important for us to remember that senders (e.g. journalists) are not the only ones to work with frames; audiences utilize frames too.

From the reading Steven and I did in preparation for tonight’s presentation, it appears much current framing research assumes individual journalists and individual audience members have a large degree of autonomy and agency in their news production and consumption.  A critique of current framing research suggests that things are much more complex: The frames journalists employ are often the products of professional and organizational processes in the newsroom, whereas audience frames are based on a collective process of negotiation over the meaning of news frames rather than individual exposure to them (Vliegenthart and van Zoonen, 2011).

The current approach to the study of the effects of news frames doesn’t do justice to the interactive and social nature of interpreting politics or to our active multimedia culture. How can researchers do a better job of studying such effects? Do you think it’s acceptable to conduct a framing analysis without studying the effects, or would any such study be incomplete?

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