The end of framing as we know it

Cacciatore, M. A., Scheufele, D. A., & Iyengar, S. (2016). The end of framing as we know it … and the future of media effects. Mass Communication & Society, 19(1), 7-23.

Abstract: Framing has become one of the most popular areas of research for scholars in communication and a wide variety of other disciplines, such as psychology, behavioral economics, political science and sociology. Particularly in the communication discipline, however, ambiguities surrounding how we conceptualize and therefore operationalize framing have begun to overlap with other media effects models to a point that is dysfunctional. This paper provides an in-depth examination of framing and positions the theory in the context of recent evolutions in media effects research. We begin by arguing for changes in how communication scholars approach framing as a theoretical construct. We urge scholars to abandon the general term “framing” altogether, and instead, distinguish between different types of framing. We also propose that, as a field, we re-focus attention on the concept’s original theoretical foundations and, more importantly, the potential empirical contributions that the concept can make to our field and our understanding of media effects. Finally, we discuss framing as a bridge between paradigms as we shift from an era of mass communication to one of echo chambers, tailored information and micro-targeting in the new media environment.

Michael Cacciatore