Van Gorp, B. & Van der Goot, M. (2011). Talking about sustainability: Responses to frames in persuasive messages about sustainable agriculture and food. In T. van Haaften, H. Jansen, J. de Jong, & W. Koetsenruijter (Eds.), Bending opinion: Essays on persuasion in the public domain (pp. 373-393). Leiden: Leiden University Press.

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to explore how “framing” works, by examining how citizens respond to persuasive messages about sustainability. Sustainable agriculture and food production present a complex field in which stakeholders need to look for the most effective arguments to communicate that especially their production methods are sustainable. To study this persuasive communication, framing theory from a constructionist perspective is used. In a previous study six frames were identified that stakeholders apply in communication about sustainable food and agriculture. In the current study, four focus groups were conducted in Belgium to identify how participants respond to texts that use these six frames. The analysis leads to four main findings about how frames work with respect to the abstract issue of sustainability in the agriculture and food system: simplification, figurative analogy, causation, and cultural resonance.