- Make Poverty History can be seen as an opportunity to break out of the transaction frame. By rallying around the call for 'Justice not Charity', it attempted to disrupt the stubborn misperception that 'all we can do is give money'. Yet, as it turned out, the transaction frame proved too strong. Despite the campaign strategy, members of the public remained convinced that it must be raising money, from all those whitebands and text messages. When in the end, Live8 became the finale to the activity around the G8, the public's certainty about the transactional model was confirmed. Inadvertently, MPH had reinforced the Live Aid Legacy.
- This analysis of sector practices encourages us to look at the problem of public engagement through the lens of values theory. There is a substantial body of evidence which shows how different values inter-relate, and if we want people to engage with 'bigger than self' problems like climate change or global poverty, we need to play to their intrinsic values (such as a sense of equality, social justice, or unity with nature). Conversely, enhancing the status of Northern 'givers' relative to Southern 'receivers', and delivering messages focused on giving money or taking easy actions will only discourage people from following more altruistic and intrinsic motivations in future. This is the central thesis of the recent Common Cause report, and Finding Frames adopts (and adapts) that way of working in the context of development NGOs.
- Values are by their nature abstract, and are understood to be in tension with one another. Frames theory offers a way both to negotiate those tensions, and to embed the positive values for building public engagement within NGOs' practices. Frames can be understood as chunks of factual and procedural information in the mind; they literally structure how we think. In recent years, the power of frames as tools for political campaigning has been identified by George Lakoff, a linguistics academic turned 'cognitive activist' in the US. He has identified a number of 'deep frames' which inform how we behave, how institutions are constructed, and how we think and talk about the world. These deep frames essentially represent moral worldviews and as such they determine how ideas and experiences are understood (or 'framed').
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