Framing the Economy is a collaboration between PIRC, the New Economics Foundation, the New Economy Organisers Network and the FrameWorks Institute. Over two years, we have worked together to find out how people across the UK think about the economy – and how civil society campaigners can use this understanding to better communicate.
During this project we’ve run in-depth interviews, surveys, focus groups and literature reviews. We have worked with a network of campaigners and spokespeople, and we’ve designed and facilitated participatory workshops to help campaigners and communicators apply this research to areas such as housing and regulation.
The economy is a collection of a human systems, invented to help us harness resources to provide for human needs, inside or outside the marketplace. Through different stages of research and consultation, we have found that the way people think about these systems is deeply affected by which stories of the economy are told, how often, and by whom. For example, metaphorical language that likens the economy to a weather system (e.g. ‘waves’, ‘tides’, ‘plunge’, ‘storms’) suggests that the economy is a self-governing and somewhat mysterious force best left to its own devices – a way of thinking that can justify a laissez faire approach to governance.
During the latter stages of our research, we focused on creating and testing new stories that shift thinking and build support for a new economy. We found that metaphorical language implying human intervention and design (e.g. ‘reprogramme’, ‘building economic tracks’) can overcome people’s fatalism and motivate support for progressive policies.
Our Framing the Economy report outlines how the British public think about the economy and offers two new story strategies to bring about change.
We are continuing to carry out research and training to help civil society groups organise and frame more effectively: if you want to find out more, get in touch!