Communicating About Inequality

inequality wordleWe appreciated this article by Susan Bales from the FrameWorks Institute published in The Nonprofit Quarterly. As Bales explains, funders and others looking to build support for policy solutions to address inequality must take into account the “cultural models” that Americans use to make sense of inequality and find ways to overcome them:

FrameWorks’ research across issues that touch on inequality reveals at least four major, fundamental problems with the way people are likely to hear an appeal to engage with this problem:

  1. It’s just the way the world (the economy) works, or fatalism.

  2. Individuals need to address this problem, or individualism.

  3. Small acts of individual effort are all we can do, or little-picture thinking.

  4. The best solutions are those that fit the problem, or small solutions.

Of course, finding ways to increase public understanding of inequality and potential solutions will require more than avoiding these communication pitfalls. Unfortunately, the article lays out more of a call for additional research than it does recommendations, but it does a great job of explaining the deeply and widely held beliefs that are preventing our country from getting serious about addressing inequality.

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