Journal article

Framing Processes in the Envisioning of Low-Carbon, Resilient Cities: Results from Two Visioning Exercises

03 Jul 2015

Visioning exercises were convened in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, to explore how these cities could become low-carbon and maintain resilience over the next 25 years. Drawing on the concept of frames—in particular Schon and Rein’s conceptualisation of a frame as a “diagnostic-prescriptive story” that is based on an underlying structure of beliefs, perceptions and appreciation—this paper seeks to: Attend to the ways that workshop participants framed the problems (of emissions reduction and maintaining resilience); surface framing processes and potential related sources of political contention; and discuss the role of visioning exercises in sustainability transitions. Five frames are identified, along with the interpretive orientations underpinning each frame, framing processes and the potential for frame conflict and alignment. The study suggests that the designers and facilitators of visioning exercises need to be attentive to framing processes, potential framing contests, and related social processes during a visioning exercise. Key implications are identified, with a focus on whether an exercise seeks to “open up” a complex issue or to agree upon a singular, i.e., consensual, agenda.