Camilla Bjarnøe

Camilla Bjarnøe | Evolution in Frames: Framing and Reframing of Policy Questions

This book investigates how policy questions are framed and under which circumstances they are reframed. Compared to previous studies, it examines both how parties frame and the evolution in frames on a structural level. It argues that parties are situated in a context and an ongoing framing process in the public debate at a structural level when they frame. A systemic logic governs the struggle over frames in the debate (facilitated by the news media) that leads to a certain level of stability in framing where one frame dominates. Parties and other elite actors adopt certain frames because other parties and elite actors do so, while struggling over how to understand the policy question in the future. Parties thus face a trade-off and have to compromise between promoting their own favorable frame (that aligns with their ideological belief) and adopting their opponent’s (unfavorable) frame (if it dominates the debate).

While some parties want to sustain the dominant frame, others want to change it. Sometimes a new dominant frame rises. A simple analytic model is proposed to understand the reframing process. Two types of contextual changes (substantial policy changes and critical information) may lower the threshold for reframing. Three characteristics of how parties (and other elite actors) frame describes this process: political frame attention, political frame overlap, and the frame being commonly adopted and accepted. The argument about framing and reframing was generally supported in a comprehensive examination of the evolution in frames across four individual policy questions in Denmark for more than two decades.    

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