Big Time Framing

Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2005 at 9:41 am by Chelsea Green Publishing

As I was looking through our Chelsea Green website stats this morning, I found a curious link from Harvard’s “Institute for Quantitative Social Science.” The link came from an article in IQSS’s “Research in Progress” publication, called “Kevin Quinn on How Words Shape Democracy.” Interesting.

As it turns out, Kevin Quinn is a principle investigator in a new $749,000, 3-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation that aims to identify political frames.

“To be honest,” says Kevin Quinn, an assistant professor in the Department of Government, “political scientists really have very little comprehensive data on how politicians have used language over even the past 10 years, much less over the past 50 to 100 years.”

Surprisingly, the article made no mention of George Lakoff or his groundbreaking work on framing, and the link back to Chelsea Green actually led to the NY Times Magazine’s recent piece on “Framing Wars.” It seems inconceivable to me that these researchers wouldn’t already know about Lakoff, although the question is always there. When asked about framing, Kevin Quinn explained: “Republicans have for decades been “much better” at this than Democrats.” Isn’t that the exact message of Don’t Think of an Elephant? I guess we should feel honored that it is worth three quarters of a million dollars to prove Lakoff’s conclusions, two years after he wrote them down in a $10 handbook.

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