Responses to Lakoff, pp. 1-27

What did you notice?  How did you respond?  What reflections did it invite for you on your in-class writing last Wednesday about “assumptions”?  Write your response as a Comment to this post.


11 thoughts on “Responses to Lakoff, pp. 1-27”

  1. In Lakoff’s chapter on framing, I was introduced to concepts that I had not previously learned about. She puts forth that conservatives have mastered the art of framing when engaging their base, using key words or phrases to effectively appeal to this group of people. Generally speaking, I was aware of how a “strict father” frame of thinking appealed to conservatives. Conservatives typically emphasize deference to authority, intervention in developing countries (inferior, childlike nations), and policies that exhibit strength. Conversative politicians capitalize on this using particular verbiage and buzz words because it plays well with the base. Their policies may work against the benefit of a large number of their voters, but people vote based on who they can identify their values with, as Lakoff astutely points out. Taking strict positions on things such as immigration, healthcare, and military intervention legitimizes a government that continuously falls short of ensuring that its citizens are financially secure.
    In class on Wednesday, I wrote that my family leans more towards the strict-father framework. However, my family does not identify with the conservative ideology that Lakoff predicts we would. My family is strict in some respects and nurturant in others. I wish Lakoff spoke more about these kinds of families, and how rhetoric is not always effective on them. I feel this kind of family votes more objectively. That is, they prefer a candidate who supports their self-interests rather than mirrors their identity.


  2. Lakoff’s chapter regarding framing was structured well, and the message mirrored the argument. Although, I could not help but notice some major gaps in Lakoff’s assertions. Beginning with his contention on international relations theory. Lakoff classically brings up the concept of the “rational actor” in international relations stating, “It is the basis of most international relations theory,”. He then fleshes out this statement by discussing how a nation’s self-interest drives their policy. I can imagine, with 9/11 and the Iraq War at the forefront of Lakoff’s mind that he would automatically project realism as the absolute for international theory. I am disappointed that such an educated, and well-versed individual would settle with such an easy argument, and completely disregard other international relations theory.

    Although, it is a bit ironic, and at the same time very intelligent of Lakoff to adapt the realist argument to his discussion of framing; as in itself it is a frame. Just as he spoke about in his passage, people grasp concepts and it takes a whole lot more than facts to change their minds. Well, let’s use a combo of facts and framing to disprove Lakoff’s gross over exaggeration of conservatism in global politics.

    After the Cold War, and the fall of bipolar politics, new theories began to thrive as realism saw its imminent death. The fall of the USSR disproved realism, as nations do always not act in their self-interest (a similar argument to what Lakoff said in his passage). Although, other theories arose out of the fall, such as liberalism, and constructivism. For simplicity sake, let’s focus on constructivism.

    Constructivism argues that states’ actions and policies are based on how leaders, bureaucracies, and societies interpret or construct the information available to them. To break it down even further, realism states that nations are the only actors in international politics. Therefore, there is a power struggle between actors while the act within self-interest. Conversely, constructivism argues that there are more actors in global politics. Non-governmental organizations (NGOS and intergovernmental organizations (IGOS) are two examples of other actors. Lastly, constructivism frames global politics as a symbiotic relationship. Actors are influenced by norms, and norms are influenced by actors. Furthermore, actors are influenced by subjective relationships with other countries and entities. What that means is the perceptions and ideas of actor’s matter, specifically their legitimacy in the world stage.

    The best example of present-day constructivism is Saudi Arabia. A known human rights violator, Saudi Arabia asked to sit on the Human Rights Council (pretty absurd, right?). The point is this: Saudi Arabia tried to join in attempt to conform to global norms and change their global perception. Now back to Lakoff, the simple way to prove that Lakoff is wrong is to look at past conservative presidents. Did any of them provide humanitarian aid? Where? When? If so, why would they provide humanitarian aid if it goes against the idea of self-interest. Well, it’s clear and simple: conservative leaders of nations do not always act in self-interest or engage in politics based on the “Father-world view”.

    Lakoff is what is wrong with this country. Drawing “absolutes” and blaming one side for being more effective with framing makes Lakoff look like a child throwing a tantrum.


  3. I believe Lakoff’s chapter on framing 101, was very well written and structured well. He explains how conservatives think and how to counter their arguments. He also explains how “framing is about getting language that fits your worldview.” He outlines in extensive details the values that progressives hold, but they do not do a good job of articulating what they want. I also thought it was helpful how Lakoff broke down the ways conservatives frame their issues with multiple different examples. While I was reading the chapter, he starts out by talking about how every word evokes a frame. I honestly never paid attention to how words evoke a frame until he mentioned it and talked about the exercise he did with his students. I also liked the fact that Lakoff mentioned the “strict father” model, which I had never heard before until this reading. When he mentioned the two different models of the family, a strict father family and a nurturant parent family, it was easy to relate that back to our in class exercise last Wednesday. Conservative families tend to lean toward the “strict father” frame of thinking and he assumed most families would. However, although I do have a lot of family member that are conservative, they don’t follow that model. I wrote about how my family is the complete opposite and leans towards the “nurturant” frame of thinking. I feel like my family follows most of the aspects that the nurturant frame follows and it seemed to have worked out well. I don’t necessarily agree with what he says about a “do gooder” and I was hoping he would dive more into that.


    1. I absolutely see where you are coming from when you said that you never paid attention to how wording evokes frames. But then after reading Lakeoff, I can’t stop but notice the wordings of everything I watch now, even in movies. And when he talked about strict father model, I couldn’t relate at all and maybe it’s because my family are not into politics as much. It just makes me wonder if poor families could be conservatives.


  4. I like Lakoff’s parlance ”to reframe” that is summarized as ‘ accessing what we and like-minded others believe unconsciously, making it conscious, and repeating it till it enters normal public discourse”. I feel when receiving news about politics in the public sphere, citizens are confronted with elites defining and interpreting what are the issues of the day in attempts to inform and direct public opinion. Nevertheless, many of us have a poor understanding of how our opinions are influenced by frames explicitly evoked by a political party. And one biggest surprise for me after reading the chapter is the insight that when we negate a frame, we actually strengthen a frame. While a mosque monkey will think of what grasping would be after they are trained actively not to grasp, we humans can’t help think of elephants when we hear “don’t think of an elephant”. By the way, I have to mention that some terms Lakoff throws out from the field of cognitive neuroscience and linguistics like “hypocognition” are as speculative as they would be. I doubt they are based on conjecture rather than knowledge.
    Anyway, the chapter gives me a look into some political process and political news that I haven’t thought of before. I like how he sees governance through metaphors of the family and that “father and children” model. And as a student from China, I couldn’t stop thinking of how the Chinese government frames citizens’ opinions and what it would be if we have more parties in mainland China: what central issues would they focus on? I will probably reflect more on that in the opinion essay.


  5. Lakoff’s ideas about framing and word usage were very interesting. I find this type of thing exciting as an English major because I think it is interesting how certain words and phrases can change the way we think. The way we use language is so important, and can change other’s views, and I think that Lakoff does an excellent job, not only of conveying this, but of explaining how to use language in our favor. It was also interesting to read the rationalization of the morality of a view that opposes my own. When reading about conservative views and strategies and how these are applied in politics, I was fascinated to learn where certain views stem from and how conservatives effectively convey these views to their own advantage.
    I think that Lakoff’s points can be applied to a lot of things, not just politics. When trying to write persuasively, or just effectively, using Lakoff’s ideas of framing can be helpful. When trying to sway someone to do something you want or trying to convince someone to see from your point of view, it could be useful to use framing. When trying to motivate yourself, Lakoff’s ideas could be effective. There are many instances where Lakoff’s techniques could prove helpful in daily life.
    Finally, I think it is fascinating that Lakoff suggests we might be able to reframe our own ideas or the ideas of someone else. This suggests a lot of power, as one would have to change the brain chemistry in order to change the way someone thinks. The idea that a repetitive use of language and ideas can have such a significant impact is an idea that is very powerful, and should be used more in the challenges that many organizations face.


  6. I thought that Lakoff explained very well how much the media can sway the general public simply by usage of certain words. It feels like one of those moments where something is so obvious and normal to you that you do not even notice it anymore. I was not particularly surprised to hear that big news companies and presidents use this strategy all the time once I started reading because those were the first people I would guess to employ the use of framing. However, I was surprised about how far these people are able to get using framing. Especially with the “Clear Skies Initiative” which indicates or makes someone think that the government is cutting down on pollution, when in reality it does the exact opposite. Being able to sway so many people in this manner is such a powerful thing for a corporation or a single individual to have and it could leave incredible impacts in the future.


  7. This reading was incredibly interesting and thought provoking for me. As someone with mainly liberal viewpoints, I’ve always wondered how conservatives come to the conclusions on issues that they do. In the past, I’d always contributed it to who someone was raised by. Often, I’d wonder, if my parents had happened to be conservative would I then have conservative views? Would I think all liberals are idiots? How much have my beliefs been shaped by my parents? Lakoff’s concept of there being two different styles of parenting are similar to the idea I had developed to explain how people develop their ideas, but it’s also intriguingly different. I always considered it to basically come down to what the parents choose to expose to their kids. Lakoff however, describes it as a clear difference in parenting style that results in different sets of moral values. The idea that the way Bush would frame his words was a direct appeal to those moral values of conservatives is fascinating. It makes me wonder if he thinks the way Trump behaves is a deliberate appeal to those same values. Is Trump truly a master manipulator? Or is he just lucky that his brand of extremely unhinged rambling happens to appeal to the Conservative population?


  8. This reading really spoke to me and made me think about how was raised. My dad is a staunch conservative, while my mom is an indifferent un-affiliated voter. There is no doubt my dad pushed his views on me when I was younger, but that is not the ultimate reason why I am conservative today. My dad worked a lot, but he found time to help raise me and the technique he used was “Tough Love”. My dad loves me very very much, but growing up he was more likely to constructively criticize me instead of complimenting me. Also, he taught me that you work hard and don’t aspect anything from anyone. You don’t deserve anything and you have to work for it instead. The government is here to help but you do not need it to hold your hand. These things my dad taught me are conservative views and I still agree with them. But this is where I disagree with Lakoff, regardless of my upbringing at a certain age I researched politics and was able to find my own identity and that is as conservative. My dad wanted me to be one for sure, but I am the sole reason why I am conservative


  9. Lakoff’s chapter about framing is very interesting. It brings up strategies we may often use to argue, but do not realize when we’re doing it. It was really insightful to read what he said about language, and how when arguing against someone you shouldn’t use their language because it has a certain frame that you do not want. It is also interesting to see how language also has two meanings. Not literally, but two ways of thinking of things. Lakoff explains how when people say “we send our sons to war” usually we send nations to war, so this leads us to believe that there are two different ways as seeing our nation and our sons. Lakoff also talks about different ways of raising your children. I firmly believe that parenting is very individualized and that parents should not instill their political values, rather let the child decide for him/her self.


  10. As I read Lakeoff’s writing on Framing, I found it very detailed and great examples were given because I really learned so much about the way politics work and how our minds as people are manipulative. He gives an example on how Bush used “permission slip” as a way to let the other nations know that the United State is not some developing countries that need permission, it was also a very effective way. The ways words are used are very important in politics, just like how Lakeoff mentioned, it is the most important tool that allowed the conservatives to be ahead of the democrats. They know the right words to use to make make loyal supporters and they created books to teach the younger ones of their beliefs and system. I was really captivated by the way he explained conservatives’ view points and I have to say that I am very fascinated by them. Lakeoff did a good job in comparing both Democrats and Conservatives and underlining where Democrats fail to gain people’s supports and where the conservatives succeed on influencing people who might not share the same social class or ideas as them.


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