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structural metaphor

A structural metaphor is a choice of words, direct comparison, allusion or analogy that one structure resembles another. For instance, to imply or state that a given power structure resembles a building? or meeting place?, or some mechanism?.

spatial examples


A structural metaphor is called a spatial metaphor when the structure or space is one that a human being typically moves through.

Two examples:
  • Eric Raymond?'s paper The Cathedral and the Bazaar? characterizes proprietary software? development as akin to a cathedral, and open source as akin to an open and relatively uncontrolled free market
  • "GPC bunker", a phrase implying that the Green Party of Canada is run by a very few people insulated from outside criticism or views, operating on limited information from outside and employing a military-style single command hierarchy.

A more general spatial metaphor is the use of the words website or navigation to describe loking at different bits of text in sequence. Some people call this the museum metaphor.

A vehicle metaphor is partially spatial and partially functional. For instance the term:backpedal implies the motion of a bicycle?.

unavoidable in English


While some people dismiss such comparisons as rhetoric, it is hard to imagine how one may describe organization protocols without such conceptual metaphor. For instance, the term "GPC hub" preferred by the GPC Council implies that the function is similar to that of a hub of a wheel, a very necessary and indispensible part that bears all of the pressure brought in by the spokes. This too is a structural metaphor though not a spatial one necessarily.

Once such a metaphor to a wheel is accepted by the listener, it is much easier, according to most linguist?s, to get someone to accept the term:backpedal or term:brake? or term:crash? as a description of a policy direction or consequence.

can be balanced, but not neutralized easily


In a choice between metaphors, in politics itself, one's opponents will typically prefer the one that implies more scrutiny and probity?. If they are in the majority (and in the case of all Canadian political parties, every one of them is in the minority compared to opponents) then the characterization by opponents, sticks. This is called neutral point of view and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile this kind of editorial neutrality with political balance of positions.

Accordingly, open politics itself relies more on multiple point of view structures such as issue/position/argument which have the merit of removing rhetoric from at least issue statements, and isolating the worst rhetoric in the position


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