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Framing Effects

Dietram A. Scheufele


There is no single commonly accepted definition of framing in the field of communication. In fact, political communication scholars have offered a variety of conceptual and operational approaches to framing that all differ with respect to their underlying assumptions, the way they define frames and framing, their operational definitions, and very often also the criterion variables. Previous framing research can be classified based on its level of analysis and the specific process of framing that various studies have focused on. In particular, Scheufele (1999) differentiated media frames and audience frames . Based on these two broader concepts, he distinguished four processes that classify areas of framing research and outline the links among them: frame building, frame setting, individual-level effects of framing , and journalists as audiences for frames . Media frames are defined as “a central organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events” ( Gamson & Modigliani 1987 , 143). Media frames are important tools for journalists to reduce complexity and convey issues, such as welfare reform or stem cell research, in a way that allows audiences to make sense of them with limited amounts of prior information. For journalists, framing is therefore a means of presenting information in a format that fits the modalities and constraints of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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