Greg Bateson Founder of Climate Control & Framing Theory

Framing Theory
The theoretical basis for this study is framing and its kaleidoscope of meanings,
mutations, and methods as defined by the researchers who have studied it (Bateson,1955; Bellamy, 2013; Borah, 2011; Boykoff, 2013; D’Angelo, Kuypers, & Young, 2011; Entman, 1993; Goffman, 1974; Iyengar, 1996; Kahneman & Tversky, 1984; Koteyko, Thelwall & Nerlich, 2009; Lakoff, 2010; Luokkanen, Huttunen, & Hilden, 2013; Markusson, 2013; Markusson, Ginn, Singh Ghaleigh, & Scott, 2014; Nerlich, 2014; Nerlich & Jaspal, 2012; Nisbet, 2009; Rebich-Hespanha, Rice, Montello, Retzloff, Tien, & Hespanha, 2014; Rodriguez & Dimitrova, 2011; Scholte, Vasileiadou, & Petersen, 2013; Spence & Pidgeon, 2010; Porter & Hulme, 2013; Trumbo, 1996). Bowe (2012), highlights a few problems regarding framing theory which “has at times pushed the field toward incoherence” because researchers only give an “obligatory nod to the literature” when operationalizing the frames (p. 158). In order to improve this situation close attention was paid to prior framing research in order to establish framing theory with somewhat agreed upon standards regarding climate control in the media.

According to communication researchers, “a large and growing body of literature in framing studies has emerged in recent years” (Borah, 2011, p. 246). Evidence for this is apparent in the extensive (but not all inclusive) reference list at the beginning of this chapter specifically researchers discussing climate control (in terms of geoengineering) said “frame analysis is increasingly used as a tool to study media content on the mutually bound issue of climate change” (Porter & Hulme, 2013, p. 343). Markusson gave a succinct literature review regarding the framing of climate control (again in terms of geoengineering):

..there is a small, but growing body of literature on geoengineering discourse, through such different but related lenses as frame effects of functions (Bellamy, et al., 2012; Scholte, et al., 2013), metaphors (Nerlich and Jaspal, 2012; Luokkanen, et al. 2013), and discursive strategies (Sikka, 2012). A few findings recur across studies and over time. Notably, Nerlich and Jaspal (2012) identify emergency as a master argument…beyond that, the findings of this literature are rather divergent, producing lists of frames and metaphors that are not easily reconcilable (Markusson, 2013, p. 5) [Italics added].

Framing theory is multidisciplinary and includes ideas from “sociology, economics,

psychology, cognitive linguistics…communication…political science…and media studies” (Borah, 2011, p. 246). Historically, Erving Goffman and Gregory Bateson are, arguably, the foundation of framing theory. Goffman borrowed heavily from Bateson’s early definition of framing and in order to understand Goffman’s definition one must consider Bateson’s as well (Goffman, 1974, p. 7). Bateson’s definition of framing was a cross between the actual physical picture frame and a mathematical idea known as set theory (Bateson, 1955, p. 322). The more concrete picture frame component has to do with the analogy of the picture frame, the picture itself, and the surrounding wallpaper. These three components have to do with the inclusion and exclusion of things (p. 323). Taking this idea one step further Bateson said, “the picture frame tells the viewer that he is not to use the same sort of thinking in interpreting the picture that he might use in interpreting the wallpaper outside the frame” (p. 323).

A large portion of both framing theory and controlling the weather involves naming things (Sturken, 2001, p. 164) and “to realize what things are called is incomparably more important than what they are” (Nietzche, p.121). For example Boykoff cites the example when,

BP, Transocean, and Halliburton attempted to scrub their name from the disaster title: These efforts demonstrated how these carbon-based industry actors placed great importance on the desire to avoid negative repercussions through such naming and shaming. Exploring things in this way opens up questions about how power flows through the capillaries of our shared social, cultural, and political body, constructing knowledge, norms, conventions, and (un)truths (Foucault, 1980). The cultural politics of climate change lurk in a multitude of spaces (recreational centers, neighborhoods, pubs, workplaces, schools, and town centers). “Actors” in this discursive and material theater—from climate scientists to business industry interests and environmental activists—are ultimately all members of the “public citizenry.” The cultural politics of climate change are situated, power-laden, mediated, and recursive in an ongoing battlefield of knowledge and interpretation (Boykoff, 2013, p. 801raming theory can be broken into two parts: “sociological” and “psychological” (Borah, 2011, p. 247). The sociological approach holds that “frames help people organize what they see In everyday life… and…highlight some aspects of reality while excluding other elements” (Borah, 2011, p. 248). It is also the branch of framing theory which intends to understand the ways in which common sets of ideas are grouped, presented, and debated (Bateson, 1955; Goffman, 1974; Entman, 1993; Miller, 2000; Trumbo, 1996). Goffman’s original frame analysis comes from this school which mainly focuses on “the structure of experience individuals have at any moment of their social lives” (Goffman, 1974, p. 13). This includes the processes journalists use to create news content also known “media frames” (Borah, 2011, p. 248). Kate Porter and Mike Hulme researched the framing of climate control in the media and followed the sociological foundation when they said, “Entman’s (1993) work is generally taken as an initial point of entry into media frame analysis…Entman defines media framing as ‘selecting some aspects of a perceived reality and making…them more salient in a communication text in such a way as to promote a particular problem, definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and /or treatment recommendation for the item described” (p. 343). Cairns and Stirling (2014) cited two other papers that focused on media frames and geoengineering written by Scholte (2013) and Luokkanen (2013). In general articles like these that focused on media frames have to do with analyzing the specific content from the media and “frame production…or the process through which media frames are actually created” (Borah, 2011, p. 249). For example according to Trumbo, “themes that emerge in media representation of an issue can be called frames” (Trumbo, 1996, p. 270). Furthermore media frames or media “framing essentially involves selection and salience. To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.” (Entman, 1993, p. 52). Entman then gave an example of the “cold war’ framethat dominated U.S. news of foreign affairs until recently. The cold war frame highlighted certain foreign events—say, civil wars—as problems, identified their source (communist rebels), offered moral judgments (atheistic aggression), and commended particular solutions (U.S. support the other side)” (p. 52). Media or sociological framing theory studies make up the vast majority of the total studies on framing theory reviewed in this research. All the researchers (except the next six who looked at the psychological or audience frame theory) used the sociological or media frame theory approach.

An example of audience framing analysis that uses the psychological or audience frame approach is exemplified by Kahneman and Tversky (1984) “who were the first to demonstrate how different presentations of essentially the same information can have an impact on people’s choices” (Borah, 2011, p. 248). Spence and Pidgeon then applied these ideas to climate change in “Framing and Communicating Climate Change: The Effects of Distance and Outcome Frame Manipulations” which investigated if past health and behavioral research findings on the effects of framing information in order to manipulate attitudes and behaviors were transferable to the case of climate change in the media (2010, p. 656). Their study conducted in 2009 examined cognitive framing theories via peripheral persuasion cues derived from the “2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report” (2010, p. 656). The questions Spence and Pidgeon asked included which frames had the most impact on beliefs and were the findings in harmony with prior research not specifically associated with climate change narratives in the media. The outcome frame tested included gains or losses associated with climate change news narratives. For example, if a news article frames the topic of alternative energy as how much it will cost the taxpayers, that is a loss frame, but if the frame is how much they will save from the future prevention of climate change, that is a gain frame. These frames were incorporated into the present research’s coding instrument specifically regarding the impact frame and whether climate change was viewed as negative (frame elements 33 & 34) or positively (frame element 44). Classic theories in the risk domain were generally supported as well as the psychology health frames when compared with Pidgeon’s study that looked at climate change narratives specifically. Another group of researchers, Phil Macnaghten and Bronislaw Szerszynski (2013), looked into audience or psychological framing analysis which investigated the effects different geoengineering frames had on an audience and was used to construct the coding instrument used in the present research. One of their frames they introduced was “the conventional frame of the perceived need to buy more time for greenhouse gas mitigation policies to become effective” (p. 472). This frame was not included but this next one was included, “the possible use of solar radiation management techniques for social, political and military purposes unrelated to climate change” (p. 468) specifically frame 1: Climate Control is War.


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