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Responses to Lakoff

This blog was originally posted at Identity Campaigning.

Yesterday, I posted a piece by George Lakoff, How We Talk About the Environment Has Everything to Do with Whether We’ll Save It. Lakoff’s piece, which appeared on Alternet has elicited several responses from others: See, for example, this really helpful and thoughtful reflection from Adrian Ivakhiv, who is Associate Professor of Environmental Thought and Culture at the University of Vermont.

George Lakoff’s perspective is criticised on the grounds that it’s simplistic to suggest there are just two dominant ‘deep frames’: a progressive one, and a conservative one. This may be the case, but what interests me most about his work is his assertion that successful political movements achieve clarity about the deep frames to which they appeal – and that they recognise the importance of policy in shaping these frames. Of course, these aren’t biologically inate frames – they are created and reinforced through political process – including the policies that government enacts: even to the point, Lakoff suggests, that the Republicans have historically adopted policies which they knew would fail because, in failing, they served to promote the conservative ‘deep frame’ that it is their long-term goal to embed.

So it seems that both Lakoff and Ivakhiv would find common ground in acknowledging the importance of political process in helping to shape the values which must come to underpin any systemic and successful environmental movement.

Tom CromptonResponses to Lakoff