¥ 8. Frames
SUMMARY of TD8: Frames - Aristotle, Burger & Luckmann, Burke, Clegg,  Goffman,  & Morgan have frame theories. 
Similarities to other TD methods:
  • Ô  14.Postmodern Theatrics
  • J  11. Restorying
  • %  13. Festival and 
  • [  9. Mythmaking Systems
  • g 10. Stakeholder Models
  • I  16. Critical Theory

Dissimilar to other TD Methods:

  • C  5. Action Research
  • ¬  12. Transorganization

Frames are defined as ideologies that are in dialectic contest, resisting each other, and refusing to synthesize.  I prefer to use a combination of Goffman's, Burke's, and Aristotle's viewpoints on frames. Frameworks compete in interorganizational arenas. For more see http://cbae.nmsu.edu/~dboje/septet/frames.htm or Enron Examples of Frames http://cbae.nmsu.edu/~dboje/enron/frames.htm E.g. In Enron the Deregulation and Regulation frames were in contest, as were the frames of Cowboy Capitalism and Global Capitalism; the New Economy frames of three president's administrations pegged Enron as the poster child of New Economy and Globalization.. 

Frames for Aristotle - Aristotle (350 BCE), also wrote about frames, the “frames of mind” of the spectators, who must be persuaded through dialog and rhythm (or melody), and the proper poet must frame theatrics in ways that persuades them that a tragic flaw (e.g. hubris or greed) in the hero will ultimately bring about their reversals of fortune; so too, in Enron and Andersen, do commentators root out tragic character flaws, to get the public to purge their own tragic flaws, rather than accept greed as inevitable tragic comedy of Free Market, Deregulated capitalist ideology. For Aristotle frame is “putting the audience into a certain frame of mind” (Rhetoric, 1356a: 2).  Theatre seeks to persuade through dialog and rhythm that some Frames better be adhered to by spectators or they will experience the smae reversal of fortune as tragic heroes. 

Frames for Burke - the ‘frame’ (1937) element for Burke (1972: 23) was one he said that he always wanted to append to Pentad (1945) I unbundled two Aristotelian elements (rhythm & dialog) that Burke reduced to agency.  This yields seven dramatis elements (plots, characters, themes, dialogs, rhythms, & spectacles), which I take on a critical postmodern theory turn informed by Boal, Debord, Best, and Kellner (See TAMARA Journal, 2001).[i]. Burke (1937, 1945, 1972) uses his Pentad to say that Marx is too focused on grotesque and burlesque frames of rejection; Burke prefers Nietzsche’s (1974/1887) more comedic frame of acceptance (Boje, Rosile, Durant & Luhman, 2002).  Burke is always uncomfortable with Marx’s dialectic, which only analyzes exploitation. Burke’s proposal is dialectic of frames of acceptance against frames of rejection; in frames of acceptance we accept the tragic and comedic circumstances and our powerlessness to change the system; in frames of rejection actively resist what is considered grotesque or burlesque forms of domination. My thesis is the Septet elements refuse to cohere (for long) in Metatheatre, and just will not resolve into narrative closure; the ‘cock-ups’ keep emerging (Gabriel, 2000: 60, 148) into more and more fragmentation. I have developed the Septet thesis elsewhere (Boje, 2002a, b), and will focus here on Metatheatre and its more antenarrative relationships.

Burger & Luckmann

Berger & Luckmann (1966) tell us that through therapy we learn to stop playing in metaphor universes that bring us dysfunction. We learn to play in the institutionalized and legitimate or official metaphors. Berger & Luckmann (1967) refer to frame, as the "maintenance" aspects of the social system.

Frameworks - This is our Goffman analysis of the Public Housing Community. People make interpretations on what is going on around their world through the framework (schemata of interpretations) that Goffman calls the primary framework. Two main types of primary frameworks: natural (just physical) and social (by person's will or action). We consulted to a framework embedded in contesting frameworks. There was a division of consulting labor among the varied frameworks of the network of organizations in which we did our TD work. Our transcripts attest to the Theatrics of Everyday Life and to the Metaphorization in that TD arena. For example, the Housing Authority of the City of LA referred to themselves as the "Authority."

Framework of Frameworks - Goffman means the cosmology or belief systems of a culture. White, Wolfe, and I (1994) were interested in the public housing community where more than one consulting frame (press here) was in what Goffman calls tension with other frames. Our approach was to try to see if we could get come kind of dialogue and understanding happening across the frames. People like to hold onto their frames so frame breaking, morphing, and stretching is uncomfortable to us all.

My own work in Frames is:

Theatrics of Everyday Life - Goffman adopts a theatrics metaphor that can be related to the Postmodern Theatrics approach. In Everyday Life we are all drama queens, dramatizing and mystifying what we do. (Press here) for Dramaturgical Chart. We act out to give an impression of ourselves. At an organization level, I have been looking at how organizations like Disney and Nike present an official storied facility to their publics and how activists critique their theatrics hoping for script changes. Goffman points out that in our professions as consultants or professors we dramatize and we coach the dramatic performances of CEOs, workers, and community leaders. And we conceal part of our dramatic performance and keep little "secrets" (Goffman 1959: 43-48). Back of backstage is the harried performer. Goffman's analogy is the everyday life is theatrical involving dramaturgical performances. We play our theatric roles to elicit desired impressions of our self to others. We have tacit agreement or "working consensus" as to whose claims and theatric frames play in different situations. Some definitions of the theatric scene we play have a "moral imperative." The consulting task is to confront clients with their habituated and institutionalized scripting of so-called "objective reality" to show it is all-subjective, so we can get together and change the enacted scripts. As with Jerome Blumer and Alfred Shutz, there are phenomenological "typifications" that are socially cast, that can be redefined.

Metaphorization - Gareth Morgan points out that we live in a symbolic universe of metaphors.  In organization metaphor therapy, Morgan helps clients play with new metaphors to creatively open up their horizons. It is not clear what Morgan does with metaphors that do not have legitimated ontological status in organization and TD consulting. Here, I mean the power issues of whose metaphors are going to hold sway.  From a critical postmodern perspective, deciding who has the monopoly on metaphors is an important question, especially if your symbolic universe is at the margin. We are socialized into accepting the symbolic universe around our institutions as something we can just take for granted. So TD here has the praxis of intervening in reality-maintenance metaphors and in frameworks of power.

The epistemology/ontology of the above Frameworks and Metaphorization comes from a Social Constructionist perspective. But this is not the only Frameworks perspective.

Stewart Clegg's Frameworks of Power.


Epistemology/Ontology - The ontology is that the world is multiple realities. It is subjectively created, but objectively internalized as objectivity. The epistemology is one of a continued dialectic cycle of subjective knowledge being apprehended as objective while forgetting its subjective initiations (Hegel). Berger & Luckmann (1967) express this perspective and it is widely known as "social construction" of everyday "reality." We do our theatrics to construct our frames and to interact with the frames of others.



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