Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractrable Policy Controversies

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Basic Books, Jun 29, 1995 - Political Science - 247 pages
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Why are controversies about such issues as abortion, welfare, persistent poverty, and environmental destruction so intractable? As anyone who has ever engaged in or tried to settle an argument on highly charged issues knows, facts rarely persuade in such situations. This innovative approach to intractable policy controversies shows how "reframing" the issues can succeed where simply appealing to facts often fails.

In Frame Reflection, two of his country's leading organizational theorists and policy analysts show how disputes that in abstract debate or negotiation seem insoluble can sometimes be resolved pragmatically by those who actually have to design and implement the specific programs. The authors illustrate their theory through a detailed examination of three specific programs: the evolution of early retirement programs in Germany; a statewide project for the homeless in Massachusetts; and the development of Project Athena, a large-scale experiment in the use of computers in undergraduate education at MIT.

Policy stalemates are inevitable. Yet we know that people sometimes do change their minds, even in situations that at first appeared hopeless. How that happens is the subject of this pathbreaking book.

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Policy Controversies as Frame Conflicts
Rationality Reframing and Frame Reflection
Early Retirement in Germany
Project Athena at MIT
Homelessness in Massachusetts
Design Rationality Revisited
Conclusion Implications for Research and Education

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About the author (1995)

Donald A. Schön is Ford Professor of Urban Studies and Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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