Reframing the human rights debate

The past few years have seen the growth of a deeply hostile debate on human rights in the UK, with leading politicians advocating the withdrawal of UK membership from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Counterpoint has worked with the Thomas Paine Initiative to explore the ‘hidden wiring’ of this debate, exploring the underlying frames on human rights and investigating how these frames influence public opinion.

Framing is a powerful form of influence. Frames are ‘mental structures’ that organise and order our thoughts so that we can understand issues and form preferences.They link words, sensations and experiences to an underlying organising idea, value or feeling. Framing can be used to ensure that an issue is viewed or interpreted in a particular way.

Counterpoint’s approach to framing puts culture at the centre. We ask: how do a particular culture’s symbols, myths, narratives and metaphors contribute to the frames in which a policy is understood? In the course of this project, we have analysed the different frames contributing to the UK’s human rights debates, the prevalence of each frame in different parts of the UK, and the impact of frames on how people understand and discuss human rights. Working with the Public Interest Research Centre and the Equality and Diversity Forum, we have produced an in-depth, practical handbook on strategic communications for human rights practitioners, based on a media analysis and a set of deliberative workshops with the public.

Project news

How to Reframe Human Rights in the UK? Focus on the Hidden Cultural Codes

How to Reframe Human Rights in the UK? Focus on the Hidden Cultural Codes

Giulio Carini explores how to reframe human rights

Reframing Europe in unfriendly times

Reframing Europe in unfriendly times

Trust in the EU is falling across Europe. With elections for the European Parliament coming up next year, what can EU leaders do to...


Strategic advice to manage new forms of cultural and social risks

Decoding cultures and making sense of context

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Interpreting public behaviour and emotions

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