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Examining Metaphors in Biopolitical Discourse
Unformatted Document Text:  Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 3 In this essay we argue that some metaphors and metaphoric phrasings have become interwoven with message construction in everyday discourse—so much so that counter-arguments are either neglected wholesale or greatly diminished. For example, “designer baby” has become the common parlance in designating an embryo created outside the womb, but no alternate metaphor has taken hold with the same degree of salience in popular discourse. While our focus is centered on the framing of metaphors in discourse, we also argue that some message constructions carry with them presumptions about their interpretation by audience members, thus invoking preferred readings and limiting the availability of possible responses. Indeed, some scholars argue that metaphors can “guide and direct thought in a comprehensive manner” (Condit & Condit, 2001, p. 37), drive cognition (Price, Tewksbury & Powers, 1997), impart emotions (Slovic, 2007), impact judgments (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981), influence public opinion (Benoit, 2001) and shape government policy (Kruglanski, Crenshaw, Post & Victoroff, 2008). We assert that when metaphors become linked inextricably to constructed messages in discourse—what we call message frames—the availability of polysemantic audience responses are narrowed. And while we have not embarked on an empirical study of audience responses, we assert that, when message frames are narrow, audiences are more likely to embrace the semantic package with little cognitive scrutiny. Our essay is both a descriptive and interpretive examination of metaphors that leads to an evaluation and critique of how and why such metaphors retain their persuasive efficacy. We situate our discussion of the political aspect of framing in biopolitics, borrowing from Michel Foucault, who viewed biopolitics as a struggle over truth claims about issues that impact the construct life. In writing about genetically modified foods,

Authors: Coleman, Cynthia-Lou. and Ritchie, L. David.
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Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 
3
In this essay we argue that some metaphors and metaphoric phrasings have 
become interwoven with message construction in everyday discourse—so much so that 
counter-arguments are either neglected wholesale or greatly diminished. For example, 
“designer baby” has become the common parlance in designating an embryo created 
outside the womb, but no alternate metaphor has taken hold with the same degree of 
salience in popular discourse.
While our focus is centered on the framing of metaphors in discourse, we also 
argue that some message constructions carry with them presumptions about their 
interpretation by audience members, thus invoking preferred readings and limiting the 
availability of possible responses. Indeed, some scholars argue that metaphors can 
“guide and direct thought in a comprehensive manner” (Condit & Condit, 2001, p. 37), 
drive cognition (Price, Tewksbury & Powers, 1997), impart emotions (Slovic, 2007), 
impact judgments (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981), influence public opinion (Benoit, 2001) 
and shape government policy (Kruglanski, Crenshaw, Post & Victoroff, 2008). 
We assert that when metaphors become linked inextricably to constructed 
messages in discourse—what we call message frames—the availability of polysemantic 
audience responses are narrowed. And while we have not embarked on an empirical 
study of audience responses, we assert that, when message frames are narrow, 
audiences are more likely to embrace the semantic package with little cognitive 
scrutiny. Our essay is both a descriptive and interpretive examination of metaphors that 
leads to an evaluation and critique of how and why such metaphors retain their 
persuasive efficacy.  
We situate our discussion of the political aspect of framing in biopolitics
borrowing from Michel Foucault, who viewed biopolitics as a struggle over truth claims 
about issues that impact the construct life. In writing about genetically modified foods, 


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