Blogs >> A new study says we need to change how we talk about the economy - Jonathan Dawson agrees

A new study says we need to change how we talk about the economy - Jonathan Dawson agrees

framing the economy report

If we really want to change our economic system do we need to change how we talk about it?

I have just read a fascinating new study, called Framing the Economy: How  to win the case for a better system  based on research from in-depth interviews with people from five cities in the UK.  It showed that if we talk about positive vision for a just and sustainable future we can change the dominant narrative of doom and gloom.

The report has been compiled by the New Economics Foundation, a British 'think-tank' along with a number of other partner organisations.  The focus is on the importance of the language we use to communicate our message; as the report says, ‘a good story is worth nothing without the capacity to tell it’.

Researchers devised a pair of powerful narratives that they felt would be useful to build support for a new economy.  Each story contains ‘frame elements' using values and metaphor, that through empirical testing, were found to change thinking and increase support for progressive economic policies.

The first takes anapproach that explicitly identifies corporate power and wealthy elites as the source of the economy’s problems.  The second focuses less on who has caused the problems but focuses rather on how the economy can be reoriented away from its current growth-fixation towards delivering greater wellbeing. 

The report is peppered with useful insights into the skilful use of metaphor as a means of shifting the public understanding of what the economy is and how we can change it.  Interestingly, computer-based metaphors were found to be especially helpful because they help us see that while systems are complex, they can be hacked with relative ease.

We will be diving deeper into this material with an illustrious band of presenters and participants in an upcoming course Changing the Frame

You can read the full report Framing the Economy : How to win the case for a better system here

Jonathan Dawson is a senior lecturer on MA Economics for Transition.