Politics and framing

How language impacts political thought

Authored by: Elisabeth Wehling

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Media

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138014176
eBook ISBN: 9781315673134
Adobe ISBN:


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How do linguistic choices in public discourse shape or mediate political attitudes, and how do the media contribute to their transmission and diffusion? The question of language variation and choice has become an important topic of inquiry in the social and cognitive sciences. Traditionally, it was assumed that individuals arrive at their political stances – such as conservative or liberal positions on issues as diverse as the economy, welfare, global warming, and education – based on the rational consideration of facts and in line with their material self-interest. However, the self-interest hypothesis for political behavior has proven wrong in many ways (Sears and Funk 1991) and an ever-growing body of research shows that political cognition is largely driven not by facts in and of themselves, but by conceptual structures that assign facts their meaning. These structures, called ‘conceptual frames,’ are activated through language and make issues comprehensible in terms of a specific perspective (e.g., Fillmore 1985; Lakoff 2004; Lakoff and Wehling 2012).

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