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In Frame Analysis (1974), Erving Goffman defines a ‘frame’ as ‘definitions of the situation [that] are built up in accordance with the principles of organization which govern events—at least social ones—and our subjective involvement in them’. Frame analysis is therefore concerned with the organization of experience. In a wider context, there is a considerable body of research literature (mainly in social psychology but also in sociology) to suggest that people's responses to questionnaire or interview items are partly dependent on how they ‘frame’ the questions, most notably whether a particular query is defined as being a distant issue of ‘macro’ or systemic concern, or a ‘micro’ issue that affects individuals directly. Similar ‘framing’ effects have been observed as a result of issues being defined as aspects of the economic rather than the non-economic’ spheres of life; the perceived time-horizon involved; and the definition of the imputed goals that are imagined to be the objectives of particular interactions (see, for example, W. Arts et al., ‘Income and the Idea of Justice: Principles, Judgements and their Framing’, Journal of Economic Psychology, 1991).

Subjects: Sociology.


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