“Cockroaches” or “refugees”? The framing of societal issues makes a differences

The Dynamics of Framing: Image, Emotion and the European Migration Crisis

Janina Klein I John Amis
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam I University of Edinburgh

The macro-framing literature presents something of a theoretical conundrum. While an inherently dynamic concept, most work has treated frames as static. In addition to leaving our theories of framing underspecified, this also has implications for how we go about understanding and resolving our major societal problems, including flows of displaced people, the setting for this paper. We also lack insight into the ways in which media organizations, some of the most important arbiters of understanding in our society, shape the framing process. We address these points by investigating the ways in which the photograph of Alan Kurdi lying dead on a beach in Turkey radically transformed the framing of the European migration crisis by UK newspapers. In so doing, we develop theory about two important aspects of framing change. First, in showing how macro-frames are more malleable than often perceived, we develop the concept of an emotional array that we show is central to understanding how frame composition changes over time. Second, we expose the distinct mechanisms by which framing change takes place in media organizations characterized by different ideologies.

Klein, J. & Amis, J. M. (2020). The Dynamics of Framing: Image, Emotion and the European Migration Crisis. Academy of Management Journal, in press.


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