This blog is inspired by the book “Framespotting” by Laurence and Alison Matthews available through www.iff-books.com


Look at it this way... Everywhere we look, “framing” affects how we see things. Frames restrict our view, keeping us from seeing the whole truth, and subtly influencing our take on everything from deckchairs to democracy. This upbeat, punchy guide to framespotting will open your eyes and your mind. Learn to notice frames and it’s amazing what else you’ll see: fresh ideas; how and why you’re being hoodwinked; and how you’re part of the transition from growth to growing up. Framespotting is empowering and liberating. And you’ll never look at sprinklers or economists the same way again.


One thing I have become aware of over the last few years is the strength of language. It might seem obvious but saying what you mean and meaning what you say are often “framed” from a personal perspective shaped by the language around us. I would recommended this book to anyone who wants to think more deeply about the world around us and the decisions we make. This blog is not a book review but an introduction to Framespotting. Reading the book helped me free up my thinking and tapped into my naturally rebellious nature to challenge assumptions that are inherited by what we hear in the language around us.

Framespotting is written as a journey to help think about what we perceive to be real. It is probably best introduced by using a couple of examples from the first chapter of the book to understand what is a “Frame”.

I will use three illustrations to help understand this a little, the first is your family tree or company hierarchy.

When you draw a family tree convention dictates that our ancestors go at the top and the generations flow down. This gives us the “frame” that our ancestors are to be revered as being higher up than us, and we look up to them. It is interesting a family tree is portrayed this way round when trees grow from the ground to the sky. The "tree" model is then used in organisations to describe Directors above Managers and Managers above Operatives. This gives us the “frame” that Directors should be looked up to and therefore paid more and probably occupy the upper floors of a building headquarters. This gives us the “frame” that “up” is better than “down” and follows North being better than South etc.

Another “frame” example from the book really brings it home.

There is great excitement about K-Force minder-robots. Everyone wants one, it’s the latest thing to have. The snag is K-force is lethal and K-bots have killed people. What should the government do? It seems obvious to ban them, but K-bots bring in tax revenue and create jobs. The government subsequently supports them, allows anyone to possess one and ignores complaints about them. What’s more people are rarely punished if a K-bot kills someone and people without K-bots are retreating from public areas and the only protection from K-bots seems to be to own one yourself.

What would you do in this situation?

Now let’s explain the “frame”. K-bots are cars and K-force is kinetic force the energy of an object moving at speed. Cars kill several thousand people every day (mostly those without cars – pedestrians and cyclists). As the book explains these deadly machines are “framed” so strongly as an instrument of personal freedom and a necessity of modern life that we ignore these deaths. This is the power of “framing”

The final example to illustrate the point is around taxation. We often talk about needing tax-relief which “frames” tax as a burden or affliction we need relief from. Would we consider this differently if it were “framed” as a society membership subscription that pays for roads, police the NHS.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of way of thinking and the book explains the process of considering how to spot these “frames” and zooming out to consider the whole picture before making decisions or forming opinions. It is a new way of thinking and, in my view, should be mandatory reading for every pupil in the country.

Ask yourself: "who stands to gain from the “frame” presented to me and how do I challenge the conclusions I am being manipulated in to forming?"

Cllr Paul Woodhead

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MSc, FCIWM Councillor for Hednesford South standing up for my Community - views my own