Don’t think framing is important? Think again.
Like Brexit, Donald Trump’s surprising victory is a product of successful framing.
Trump promised to ‘make America great..again’. Like the Brexiteers, he promised to claw back sovereignty, pride, self belief, independence. I'll make make America safe again, he exhorted. We’ll get rid of wasteful, expensive ObamaCare (note the framing, he didn't say the Affordable Health Act!), he promised. We’ve been outsmarted by China, Iran, Isis, Mexicans, he lamented. I know how to compete, I’m a winner. I’ll make America smart again. I’m going to BRING JOBS BACK to America, and I’m the only one who can!
And how did he frame his opponent? As ‘crooked’, part of an out-of-touch elite, the establishment, offering more of the same kinds of things that had produced the ‘not great’ America in need of massive change.
He acted angry, and that anger resonated with the deep seam of latent anger percolating through the American populace – anger about being left behind; anger at being swamped; anger at the political class; anger at the dilution of ’normality’.
It didn’t matter how noxious, disingenuous or irrational his rhetoric became. In the end, it wasn’t about rationality, articulateness or considered thought.
It was about framing.
And Hilary? Her framing may have worked more effectively at a different point in time. It certainly appealed to her existing metropolitan base, but never spoke to the middle.
Policies? She had plenty, he didn’t. It didn’t matter. Experience, know-how? She had plenty, he didn’t. It didn’t matter. Fact checking Trump? She did it, it didn’t matter.
We could talk endlessly about the racial and gender dimensions of the respective campaigns and the ultimate outcome.
The important thing here is about framing.
The really important thing for libraries is that we should never assume that our stakeholders share our frames.
Let’s be blunt.
Libraries, of all kinds, benefit from a more progressive and inclusive moral and political landscape.
The language we use – open, welcoming, inclusive, social, sharing - fits like a glove with what George Lakoff would call the ‘nurturant’ frame.
But there is another equally powerful frame at play in politics and in life.
It’s the strict father frame; the 'father knows best' frame. The strong leader frame; the frame that is built on discipline and responsibility for oneself, but also responsibility for one’s immediate family. It’s not about gushy things like ‘inclusivity’ and ’social capital', it’s about pulling yourself up and winning.
They are opposites. And it’s not about good or bad. Most of us have a combination of the two, favouring one or the other depending on the context.
At the polar ends of the continuum, it is like living in a different universe.
And, if we are firmly located at one end, we may never be able to fully understand the moral universe of someone at the other end.
But we can appeal to the middle, the ‘swinging voter’. There are so many variations and permutations here that the field is ripe for experimental framing.
We can shape, articulate and reinforce frames that strengthen our value and values. We have to. And we have to understand that our cosy, self reinforcing language and arguments only cut the mustard with people who share our frames. It’s time for change.
Libraries support success.
Libraries support your freedom of opportunity - to get a good education, a good job, a satisfying life, a prosperous life.
Libraries are a public resource that under-girds private success/business success/economic success.
Libraries pay for themselves; look at how much they do? They are pragmatic and productive. The library is a resource that keeps on giving.
Students save money by using the library, and get a personalised service. Libraries promote collaboration, and collaboration produces things, ideas, start-ups, research, knowledge, art, connections, innovation.
Libraries welcome everyone, they are places where families can gather and learn/staff can take time out and think/students can study in peace and be productive.
They come to the rescue when people need them.
Strong communities depend on people volunteering, giving something back, building resilience. That’s what libraries do, too. Imagine your campus, town, city or street without it’s library?
Libraries help us live and thrive together. Libraries are for winners! Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far.
Let’s stick with...
Your library. All yours.
Say it again and again and again.
And don’t think of an elephant!
Instead, come to Unfurl that Frame to learn more about how to reframe libraries!