Publication details [#14599]

Ervas, Francesca. 2019. Visual metaphors, imagined communities and deferred rationality. Sistemi Intelligenti 3 : 413–438. 26 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Bologna: Il Mulino


In this work social network communities are defined as imagined communities and the style in which they are imagined is defined as a “simultaneous collective translation”. Accordingly, they are multimodal in nature and made possible by technologies that allow members to interact. In fact, social network communities (e.g. Facebook) have liquified the boundary between real, imagined and imaginary communities. Therefore, “reasoning in anticipation of a disagreement” could lead to “solitary” communication and confirmation bias. The author claims that this kind of mechanism is at the core of the “epistemic bubbles” responsible for “deferring” the users’ rationality. The multimodal and visual nature of communication on social networks does not seem advantageous. As a matter of fact, visual metaphors limit (instead of promoting) imagination, anchoring it to perceptual features. These claims are supported by two case studies of visual metaphors translated and reinterpreted in a Facebook group. All in all, the paper demonstrates how the phenomenon of “deferred rationality” helps preserving the “epistemic bubbles”, producing misinterpretations of visual metaphors.