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Strategic Framing

Kirk Hallahan


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Framing is a rhetorical tool used by communicators to delimit the scope of a situation or argument. Although it is “media framing” that has received extensive attention since the late 1970s (→  Framing Effects ; Framing of the News ), the framing construct is employed to understand communication in a wide range of disciplines, including speech, organizational behavioral, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology. “Strategic framing” involves the purposeful use of this technique by rhetors, social advocates, and communications professionals in fields such as →  Public Relations and advertisers (→  Advertising ). The goals of strategic framing are to telegraph →  meaning and to focus audience attention on particular portions of a message or aspects of a topic in order to gain a favorable response. Framing is a critical element in constructing social reality because it helps shape perceptions and provides a context for processing information (→  Information Processing ). As a surrounding picture frame delimits a landscape painting, so strategic communicators use message frames to create salience for certain elements of a topic by including and focusing attention on them while excluding other aspects. Message framing provides “contextual cues” that bias cognitive processing and decision-making. These cues can operate at the conscious or subconscious level during the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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