Publication details [#9785]

Schön, Donald A. 1993. Generative metaphor: A perspective on problem-setting in social policy. In Gibbs, Raymond W., Jr. Metaphor and thought: The state of the art. In : 3–16. : 137–163. 27 pp.
Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Cambridge , UK: Cambridge University Press


Donald Schön's paper concerns the cognitive function of generative metaphors, as they were dubbed by the author, in problematic situations. They can in fact be viewed as problem-solving situations, but also (and more usefully, in Schön's opinion) as problem-setting scenes. From the problem-setting perspective, the process of the naming and framing of social reality proceeds via generative (deep) metaphors, even when we are not aware of this fact: "my point here is not that we ought to think metaphorically about social policy problems, but that we do already think about them in terms of certain pervasive, tacit generative metaphors" [p.139]. For instance, Schön mentions two stories in which "the urban-housing situation is seen first as a disease which must be cured and then as threatened disruption of a natural community which must be protected or restored" [p.147]. (Elisabetta Gola)