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Conceptualizing Change in Communication Through Metaphor

Journal of Communication

Published online on


Modeling communication patterns by individuals and organizations dealing with institutional and social change is an important challenge for communication scholars. Metaphors provide frames of thinking about societal topics. The ways metaphors change can thus reveal how conceptualizations of social topics change over time. Change occurs in two temporal paces: evolutionary (continuous) or revolutionary (discontinuous). Furthermore, change occurs in two ways: through incremental (meaning of extant metaphors change) or fundamental (old metaphors are replaced) transformation. I propose that studying shifts of metaphors can be used to model incremental and fundamental change in communication at both evolutionary and revolutionary pace. I describe how such shifts have been studied on the microlevel, mesolevel, and macrolevel through both qualitative and quantitative research methods.