What does it mean to “frame” an issue? Is it like framing a picture of your sweet grandmother, the one where she’s smoking her favorite pipe?
Yeah, kind of. To frame an issue means to put it in your own box, setting up the terms and context in a way that favors you. (To get the details about framing, see Thank You for Arguing, revised edition, page 123.)
The most important tool of framing is redefinition, in which you redefine the terms of the argument. The tobacco industry did this neatly back in the 1970s, when it talked about the “controversy” over the health hazards of smoking. Scientists and doctors saw no controversy at all. Smoking is terrible for you, period. But the word “controversy” framed the smoking issue by sowing doubt. And guess what framing word climate change deniers are using these days? Yep. “Controversy.”
Here’s a video that uses framing to answer a question from a high school student. Tell us what you think in the comments.