We know from the issue-framing literature that politicians 'frame' issues strategically to influence public perceptions and preferences. We also know that there are different framing techniques. What remains poorly understood, though, is what makes a frame persuasive. The proposition
put forward in this debate paper is that social psychological research into leadership and persuasion can shed light on this question. Social Identity theorists have shown that influential leaders are crafty 'identity entrepreneurs', whose social influence derives, not from their ability to
frame issues, but from their ability to redefine the collective self-understanding. Just how potent this framing technique is becomes visible when examining the way in which radical opposition leaders call the electorate to arms. As will be shown with the help of two examples, by persuading
the electorate of an imminent threat to the collective 'us', radical opposition leaders are able to gain considerable control not only over whether an 'issue' becomes regarded as a problem requiring a policy-solution, but also over whose evidence/knowledge counts.
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