Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Framing American Politics

Framing American Politics

Karen Callaghan
Frauke Schnell
With a Foreword by Robert M. Entman
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Framing American Politics
    Book Description:

    Most issues in American political life are complex and multifaceted, subject to multiple interpretations and points of view. How issues are framed matters enormously for the way they are understood and debated. For example, is affirmative action a just means toward a diverse society, or is it reverse discrimination? Is the war on terror a defense of freedom and liberty, or is it an attack on privacy and other cherished constitutional rights? Bringing together some of the leading researchers in American politics,Framing American Politicsexplores the roles that interest groups, political elites, and the media play in framing political issues for the mass public.

    The contributors address some of the most hotly debated foreign and domestic policies in contemporary American life, focusing on both the origins and process of framing and its effects on citizens. In so doing, these scholars clearly demonstrate how frames can both enhance and hinder political participation and understanding.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7272-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Robert M. Entman

    Considering the centrality of framing to the process of political communication and the exertion of political power, it is a bit surprising that it has taken until 2005 to publish a book likeFraming American Politics. This volume clearly illustrates the contributions that the concept of framing makes to empirical and normative understanding of politics and public opinion in the United States. By illuminating undertheorized and insufficiently studied paths of influence among elites, media, and mass publics, this book makes significant strides in developing theory on just how American democracy works.

    As Karen Callaghan and Frauke Schnell write in the...

  2. Introduction: Framing Political Issues in American Politics
    (pp. 1-18)
    Karen Callaghan and Frauke Schnell

    In 1937 the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, a government-funded research center for social scientists and journalists, examined the use of persuasive messages and urged Americans to scrutinize and weigh the arguments the media presented to them. Demagogues such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin in the United States had recently gained national recognition and political power by cleverly using the media to manipulate the beliefs and behaviors of citizens.¹ Their political success paralleled the increase in radio ownership, thus evoking fears about the creation of a mass...

  3. Part I. The Origins and Development of Frames

    • 1 News from Somewhere: Journalistic Frames and the Debate over “Public Journalism”
      (pp. 21-53)
      Michael X. Delli Carpini

      In July of 1993 a handful of journalism and philanthropy trade publications reported that the Knight and Kettering Foundations, the American Press Institute, and New York University were collaborating on a project called "Public Life and the Press." The project was described as an "initiative to explore and develop ways for journalists to help strengthen citizenship, improve public debate and revive public life."¹ At an inaugural meeting of interested journalists at the American Press Institute in November of 1993, Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University and director of the project, described the purpose of the gathering...

    • 2 Campaign Frames: Can Candidates Influence Media Coverage?
      (pp. 54-75)
      Kim L. Fridkin and Patrick J. Kenney

      In 1992, the nation was in the midst of a recession. Candidates for the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate were talking about the economy. In addition, media coverage of the economy had spilled off the business pages and onto the front pages. Without question, in the fall of 1992, the principal agenda item for candidates and the media was the ailing economy.

      However, different candidates discussed the economy in different ways. Challengers were interested in blaming incumbents for the economic woes. They suggested, for example, that a failure to balance the budget had put in motion...

    • 3 Obstacles and Opportunities: Factors That Constrain Elected Officials’ Ability to Frame Political Issues
      (pp. 76-100)
      Teena Gabrielson

      In the marketplace of American politics, the packaging of political issues is often as important as the product. Yet the recognition that there is a relationship between issue presentation and citizen attention gives us little leverage in understanding how elected officials choose to frame any particular issue at a given time. The considerations to which elected officials attend in their efforts to frame political issues have gained scant attention from researchers in the study of political persuasion. The goal of this chapter is to identify some of the key factors that constrain elected officials at the national level of American...

  4. Part II. The Impact of Elite Discourse on Citizens

    • 4 Democratic Debate and Real Opinions
      (pp. 103-122)
      Donald R. Kinder and Thomas E. Nelson

      In our analysis, frames lead a double life. As much of the extant literature suggests, frames are arguments and justifications embedded in political discourse. In this use, frames are either rhetorical weapons created and sharpened by political elites to advance their position or, perhaps more often, journalistic habits, convenient "handles" for succinctly conveying the essence of a story (Gitlin 1980; Gurevitch and Blumler 1990). In both uses, frames are a central part of political debate.

      At the same time, frames also live inside the mind; they are cognitive structures that help citizens make sense of politics (Scheufele 2000). Frames provide...

    • 5 Terrorism, Media Frames, and Framing Effects: A Macro- and Microlevel Analysis
      (pp. 123-147)
      Frauke Schnell and Karen Callaghan

      On September 11, 2001, the United States experienced domestic terrorism on a scale unparalleled by any event in its history. Three airplanes hijacked by members of the Al Qaida terrorist network crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; a fourth plane headed for Washington crashed before hitting its target. The terrorist attacks killed nearly three thousand people and set in motion a series of events that would change the worldview of American citizens and alter the course of American history.

      Even the most casual observer of U.S. politics would agree that the tragic events of September 11 had...

    • 6 Super-Predators or Victims of Societal Neglect? Framing Effects in Juvenile Crime Coverage
      (pp. 148-166)
      Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. and Shanto Iyengar

      An impressive array of scholarly research demonstrates that language has a profound influence on human thought (see Carroll 1956; Seidel 1975; Sanford 1987; Rosch 1973; Lakoff 1987). In the realm of political communication, the use of particular forms of presentation or modes of discourse (also known as “frames”) strongly influences perceptions of public issues, events, and leaders (Iyengar 1991; Neuman, Just, and Crigler 1992; Gamson 1992). For example, the public is more likely to endorse increases in government welfare spending when the beneficiaries are said to be “poor people” rather than “people on welfare” or “black people” (Bobo and Kluegel...

    • 7 Media Frames, Core Values, and the Dynamics of Racial Policy Preferences
      (pp. 167-178)
      Paul M. Kellstedt

      Most Americans, regardless of their race, do not directly experience affirmative action policies, school busing to achieve racial integration, or other such governmental actions. In the 1950s and 1960s, for example, very few Americans personally witnessed the civil rights protests that defined that era. Many of these events occurred in isolated Southern rural environments, far removed from the bulk of the population. And even those that happened in larger cities like Little Rock or Montgomery, of course, had crowds that numbered, at best, in the thousands, not the millions. Yet millions of Americans vicariously experienced these events, many of which...

  5. Conclusion: Controversies and New Directions in Framing Research
    (pp. 179-190)
    Karen Callaghan

    Framing has become both a coherent research paradigm and an important conceptual tool for examining the processes by which political issues are defined and debated in American politics. Yet certain areas of research remain unexplored, while others are controversial. For instance, due to changing conceptualizations of the news, researchers must broaden the type of communications studied. This means studying nontraditional forms of political communication and conducting comparative analyses. Another area worth investigating is how we model framing effects. Also important are the implications of framing for individual citizens and democratic processes. That is, what are the political costs and benefits...