Space to Think: Using Metaphor to Expand Public Thinking about Criminal Justice Reform

Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor, Abigail Haydon


Metaphor is a vital feature of human cognition that is used both in making and creating meaning. As such, it can play a central role in multiple aspects of communication. In this paper, we synthesize theories of metaphor, culture and framing and argue that metaphors can be designed and tested to serve instrumental functions in communications practice. We discuss and explore this theory through a case study approach — presenting an iterative, multi-method research project that was conducted as part of a larger effort designed to reframe criminal justice reform and expand public discourse on this issue. Through this case study, we synthesize and apply several bodies of theory and offer a methodology for studying metaphors as a communication device. We argue for the power of metaphors as tools in effective communications practice.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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