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Recent News

Events of note in the world of strategic framing and communications – from the Topos perspective

The Tipping Point on Minimum Wage

A new memo from Topos looks at recent wins on minimum wage campaigns and finds signs of a new cultural common sense about how the economy really works and should work. Economy boosting jobs framing makes the case for other job quality policies—like paid family leave, minimum hours, and reliable scheduling—as minimum wage and paid sick days campaigns succeed across the country.

Read and download the memo here.


Talking About Income Inequality

There’s a lot of public dialogue about income inequality these days.

In a new memo, Topos principals consider the best approach to building public understanding on addressing this economic issue in light of their recently released research on building support for job quality policies like paid time off and higher minimum wages.

A dramatic rise in references to income inequality  – among leaders, journalists and advocates, and disseminated in all media – suggests that influential individuals feel the climate has changed in ways that make an inequality discussion more palatable than it has been in the past.

Since 2008, the economy has changed and the Occupy movement made headlines, so can we assume that earlier cautions no longer apply?

We should be very careful about assuming that is true – partly because the challenges discussed in the 2008 paper mostly arise from fundamental cultural perspectives and cognitive tendencies, that don’t change quickly, if ever.

The Pew Center conducts a regular survey of American values and in a recent report, the Center’s founding director Andrew Kohut and his co-author conclude that there’s been no real shift in public opinion about economic inequality despite the fact that there’s been more media attention to the issue since the Occupy movement and the 2012 election.

Overall, our goal is to help see people see the bigger picture – of what is happening, how it is happening, who is affected, etc. With this in mind, we may be better off not using the word inequality as a leading idea, and using other words for now.

Economy Boosting Jobs + Raising Minimum Wage

(C) flickr user Simon Bak

People all over the nation — the world, even — are talking about federal proposals to raise the minimum wage. How we — and they — talk about it, and how the media covers it, will determine whether or not there are shifts in the way the public understands the impact of wages on their own community.

With renewed focus on raising the federal minimum wage, Topos is releasing a short memo with new information about communication approaches that broaden support for increasing minimum wage.

This memo reviews our recent research findings on how to clarify for people why raising the minimum wage is good for all of us. Our research finds that we can succeed by having a conversation that avoids the current dynamic pitting business against workers.  We need a conversation that is focused not on what businesses need, or on what individuals need, but on what all of us and our economy need.

The most effective organizing idea for this new conversation is that we simply can’t sustain our economy or our communities, with jobs that fail to compensate adequately. These economy-busting jobs are stalling our economy and our communities. Increasing the minimum wage boosts communities and the overall economy by providing more Americans with income to spend on the basics.

A variety of points help to support and flesh out this core idea.

Download the memo or read it online for more details, including information on ideas that fail because they trigger default perspectives that are a barrier to public understanding.