Chapter published in:How Metaphors Guide, Teach and Popularize Science
Edited by Anke Beger and Thomas H. Smith
[Figurative Thought and Language 6] 2020
► pp. 211–262
Three metaphors in social science
Use patterns and usefulness, separately and together
Metaphors appear in scientific theories, guide scientists, teach students and fascinate the public. This chapter sketches a kind of vocation or métier for scientific metaphors in physics and then applies the same outline to three influential conceptual metaphors in social science – dataset, social field, and dynamical system, along with their respective sub-mappings. All three are in continuous use and often reliant on each other. Using corpora derived from recent social science literature I show how metaphors stimulate hypotheses, then are extended to account for results in successive rounds of observation and theory development, tracing the degree to which each metaphor is useful and retained over the years. Of special interest are supplementary metaphors introduced deliberately to summarize complex source domains.
Keywords: science metaphors, social science, field theory, datasets, dynamical systems
Published online: 22 April 2020
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Appendix 1.Corpora citations
Citations for texts used in corpus for Section 2:
Fryer, R. G.
Citations for texts used in corpus for Section 3:
Martin, J. L.
Eijkman, Q. A. M.