The article "More than a Message: Framing Public Health Advocacy to Change to Corporate Practices" speaks about two frames, market justice and social. What is confusing about this article? Why?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The article "More than a message: framing public health advocacy to change corporate practices" (2005) talks about the social and market frames that serve as parameters to conduct a proper conversation regarding healthcare policy and change.

The social frame refers essentially to the people. Who are we actually helping when we seek social changes regarding health care policy? Why do we want to help them? What sort of changes can actually improve the quality of lives of these individuals? Most importantly: How influential can the government be in the quality of life of individuals when it comes to healthcare policies?

The market frame refers to those who are involved in the policy process. Those with the money to make the changes happen will have to ask as many questions as they want, since they are about to invest in something massive. Therefore, healthcare policy makers should be able to answer questions that will inevitably surface such as:

  • Who are the stakeholders behind these changes? Who is proposing the changes? Who will be monetarily benefitted by these changes?
  • Will any company benefit more than another? Is the government playing favorites when taking bids for services?
  • Will data be able to show that the changes were, in fact, effective?

The social and market frames, keep in mind, are of equal importance. One cannot function without the other. In a country as massive and populated as ours, the government cannot control everything, much less the health of individuals who have access to everything, both good and bad. The authors make a great effort in trying to come up with ways for healthcare policy advocates to speak on behalf of their proposals using both frames. It is imperative to have all the answers to every question to convince the public, as well as stakeholders, that changes are necessary.

The only confusing thing that may arise from the article, to the nonpartisan reader,  is the process of policymaking itself. More than confusing, it may come off as frustrating. Just when we think that good intentions and the best interests of the public are the driving factor behind policy making, we encounter that there is a much more mundane core laying right at the bottom of everything: competitive greed. The ongoing competition of "who gets what" and "how much more can X get than Y" is a huge point that brings out contention in a conversation that should remain focused on what it is about: health. Moreover, political agendas, personal agendas, "big pharmacy", and the interests of certain, powerful individuals are other driving forces that, when they clash or conflict with one another, cause a lot of dissention.

This being said, the article is a wonderful attempt at establishing meaningful and productive conversations that may result in positive policy changes that are much needed to many sectors of the country. It also unveils how difficult making such changes can be, and how problematic this topic is in terms of its argumentative value. Healthcare, unfortunately, is a topic that causes more belligerency than sympathy. It is all because, according to the authors, the points are not coming across in a way that everyone is equally satisfied with the answers that they want to hear.