Toward a Political Economy of Framing: Putting Inequality on the Public Policy Agenda

Oscar Gandy

Abstract


This article engages political economists of communication in a theoretical and pragmatic debate about the challenges of attempting to shape public discourse around critical social problems in ways that lead to a sustainable transformation of policy agendas at the local, national and international levels. Theoretical challenges to be explored are both varied and substantial. While the notion of information subsidies has been accepted as a framework through which to assess the relative power and effectiveness of participation in the public policy process, its application has been limited primarily to media agenda setting and studies of individual persuasion. There has been far less research concerning the links between power and influence across the legislative, regulatory, judicial and programmatic activities of governments. In light of dramatic changes in the media and information environment, as well as the theoretical approaches of political economists, this article will also attempt to advance thinking about audience labor – families and households. Here, I will examine the nature of investments that have been made, and must continue to be made in the development of social, economic and political capital as a resource for bringing about societal change. These considerations will be focused on problems involved in the development, assessment and delivery of strategic information subsidies in support of public policy initiatives which address the crisis of rising social, economic, and political inequality.


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