Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Toward a taxonomy of Lakoff-style framing: Two cents

I like and largely buy into George Lakoff's explanation of how we view and judge governance "framed," to use his keyword, as if it were parenting; which we feel ought to be nurturing or tough-lovey, depending on who we are, the circumstances, and how well the political rhetoric and information taps into these feelings. I also like and buy into the more recent explanation by many that corporations behave and serve society badly because our legal systems treat the behavior and status of a corporation as if it were a person and a citizen, which it occurs to me is also a matter of framing in the Lakoff (not the legal) sense. Lakoff's point wasn't to challenge our mental habit of judging government as if it were an individual and we his or her progeny, which is indeed the motive for explaining that we judge corporations also as individuals, because the mindset is a matter of law Congress could dissolve and reform. But I think the observation that we judge organized behavior as personal behavior--and both that we could and might do well to do otherwise--might be the more fundamental one. We seem to be hard-wired to regard any action as that of an agent and maybe in our lizard brains we always will. But hey we don't have to be just lizards.

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