!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: An Overview of Frames, Framing and Reframing

Monday, August 18, 2008

An Overview of Frames, Framing and Reframing

In negotiation and conflict situations, the ability to reframe constructively is often vital for a successful outcome.

For a good overview of frames, framing, and reframing, you can turn to a 2003 article by Sanda Kaufman (Cleveland State University), Michael Elliott (Georgia Institute of Technology), and Deborah Shmueli (Haifa University) posted at the Beyond Intractability website.

The article explains:
  • What frames are.

  • Why frames are important.

  • The sources and forms of frames — with particular attention to identity frames, characterization frames, power frames, conflict management or process frames, risk and information frames, and loss versus gain frames.

  • Reframing.

  • Frame analysis and reframing as conflict management tools.
The conclusion of the article sums up the main points:
Frames play a significant role in perpetuating intractable conflict. As lenses through which disputants interpret conflicts, frames limit the clarity of communication and the quality of information, as well as instigate escalatory processes. These frames, imbedded in personal, social, and institutional roles, are often quite stable over time, even through the ebb and flow of many dispute episodes. As such, they contribute to the intractability of the conflict. In addition, frames interact, often in ways that tend to reinforce the stability of other frames. Yet, in at least some intractable conflicts, changes in the context of the dispute or purposive interventions designed to alter frames have led to reframing that, in turn, has increased the tractability of the conflict. Strategies to accomplish this reframing include frame analysis and the construction of forums designed to enhance communication, understanding, and trust.
The same principles apply in less extreme conflict and negotiation situations.


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