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Metaphorical and Non-Metaphorical Meaning in Ideological Discourses: an Examination of Technocratic Discourses and Counter-Discourses from the Progressive Era

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Two contrasting visions of ideological discourse populate sociological treatments of culture. In the work of the British social theorist Margaret Archer, we find a conception of ideological discourse as essentially dialectical and reliant on logically compelling argument. In American sociology of culture, conversely, we find an implicit understanding of ideological discourse as a 'performative' mode of discourse built around emotionally resonant symbols, image, and metaphors. If we take either of these categorical conceptualisations of ideological discourse seriously, then the only discourses which can qualify as ideological are those discourses which are either fully metaphorical or entirely dialectical. In fact, many ideological discourses make use of imagery and metaphors and at the same time feature propositions meant to be interpreted as part of a logically compelling argument. As the paper demonstrates through a detailed examination of the discourses produced by the American technocrats of the 1920s and 1930s, elaborate ideological productions often include both metaphorical propositions and logically compelling argument. Moreover, metaphorical constructions and literal propositions often function as complements in effective ideological discourses. This is especially true when the discourses are addressed to knowledgeable and economically privileged audiences, such as the 'new class' of the pre-depression United States.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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