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Dagstuhl Seminar 22131

Framing in Communication: From Theories to Computation

( Mar 27 – Apr 01, 2022 )


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Please use the following short url to reference this page: https://www.dagstuhl.de/22131

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Motivation

Goals of the Dagstuhl Seminar 22131. Framing has become recognised as a powerful communication strategy for winning debates and shaping opinions and decisions. Entman (1993) defines framing as an action of selecting “some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described”. Instead of engaging in costly and difficult exchanges of argument and counter-argument, a politician or a journalist can then try to reframe a dialogue on, for example, fracking from economic benefits to environmental hazards, or a dialogue on abortion from pro-life to pro-choice.

Introduced in 1960’s sociology, framing has been imported into communication sciences and media studies as an attempt to address the ways in which news is reported and, thus, a way in which to tackle manipulation and fake news. The topic has spread to other disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, semantics, pragmatics, political science, journalism, and, most recently – to computational linguistics and artificial intelligence. This seminar aims to pave the way to synthesising definitions developed in these theoretically and empirically driven areas and then to operationalise them in computational and applied areas by means of cross-disciplinary hands-on exchanges in facilitated discussions. Our goal is to support the development of innovative technologies, which can help us to quantify framing phenomena, to study framing at scale, and to deploy computational techniques in order to intervene against malicious attempts to influence opinions and decisions of the general public.

Topics to be addressed during the Dagstuhl Seminar 22131. Framing, being less transparent at the linguistic surface, has seen only very few attempts on formal modelling so far. The proposers of this seminar are convinced, however, that a computational treatment of framing is a central next step – extending opinion and argument analysis – and its operationalisation calls for a deeper understanding of the term and the underlying mechanisms. Before computational theories can be formulated and applications be built, the potential contributions by the various relevant disciplines (sociology, political science, psychology, communication science, and others) should be studied carefully and assessed for potential common ground. This is the first area of the proposed seminar, and the second is the follow-up step of developing a roadmap for productive computational research toward the automatic identification of framing in text and speech, and modelling the connection to the underlying reasoning processes. To accomplish this, the seminar will address a range of topics, including:

  • Argumentation theory, discourse analysis, rhetoric
  • Journalism, political science, communication science
  • Sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics
  • Computational pragmatics and discourse modelling
  • Computational social science and social media
  • Computational models of argument and debating technologies
Copyright Katarzyna Budzynska, Chris Reed, Manfred Stede, and Benno Stein

Summary

Language is used for many purposes, both private and public. When speech or text is directed to wide audiences, it often aims at influencing stances, opinions, and dispositions of readers. This can be done by relatively transparent, rational argumentation, but also in considerably more subtle ways, by phrasing utterances in such a way that the underlying intent is noticed by readers more in passing – or not consciously at all. This is the realm of “framing”, which concerns the careful selecting of the aspects of an event to be reported (those that fit the goal of letting a positive or negative evaluation shine through); the choice of terms that carry an inherent evaluation (e.g., “the frugal four” versus “the stingy four” in recent EU negotiations); and employing stylistic devices that correspondingly support the purpose (e.g., a monotonic versus a lively rhythm). Framing has been studied for quite some time, from many different perspectives, and it has also been covered by popular science books. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that definitions and emphasis differ quite a bit between and even within disciplines – the notion of framing can itself be framed, too.

The computational research on language processing has addressed some of the linguistic purposes mentioned above: Sentiment analysis and opinion mining are well-established fields; argumentation mining has more recently caught much attention and is in the process of "settling down". Framing, being less transparent at the linguistic surface, has seen only very few attempts at formal modelling so far. The proposers of this seminar are convinced, however, that a computational treatment of framing is a central next step – extending opinion and argument analysis - and its operationalization calls for a deeper understanding of the term and the underlying mechanisms. Before computational theories can be formulated and applications be built, the potential contributions by the various relevant disciplines (sociology, political science, psychology, communication science, and others) should be studied carefully and assessed for potential common ground. This is the first purpose of the proposed seminar, and the second is the follow-up step of developing a roadmap for productive computational research toward the automatic identification of framing in text and speech, and modelling the connection to the underlying reasoning processes. To accomplish this, the seminar will address a relatively broad range of topics, covering relevant subfields of linguistics, computational modelling and application, as well as practical investigation of framing in the social sciences.

Framing, being less transparent at the linguistic surface, has seen only very few attempts on formal modelling so far. The proposers of this seminar are convinced, however, that a computational treatment of framing is a central next step – extending opinion and argument analysis – and its operationalisation calls for a deeper understanding of the term and the underlying mechanisms. Before computational theories can be formulated and applications be built, the potential contributions by the various relevant disciplines (sociology, political science, psychology, communication science, and others) should be studied carefully and assessed for potential common ground. This is the first area of the proposed seminar, and the second is the follow-up step of developing a roadmap for productive computational research toward the automatic identification of framing in text and speech, and modelling the connection to the underlying reasoning processes.

To accomplish this, the seminar addressed a range of topics, including:

  • Argumentation theory, discourse analysis, rhetoric
  • Journalism, political science, communication science
  • Sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics
  • Computational pragmatics and discourse modelling
  • Computational social science and social media
  • Computational models of argument and debating technologies
Copyright Katarzyna Budzynska, Chris Reed, Manfred Stede, and Benno Stein

Participants

Classification
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computation and Language
  • Computers and Society

Keywords
  • Communication Strategies
  • Discourse and Dialogue
  • Computational Argumentation
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Social Media Analytics