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Thinking Alike? Salience and Metaphor Analysis as Cognitive Approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kai Oppermann, Alexander Spencer

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-56
Number of pages18
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2011
E-pub ahead of print6 Dec 2011
PublishedJan 2013

King's Authors


The article brings together two cognitive approaches to the analysis of foreign policy: salience and metaphor analysis. Issue salience and metaphors relate to cognitive heuristics that speak to different aspects of the cognitive representation of foreign policy problems which complement each other: the concept of salience looks at the priming of issues in the foreign policymaking environment; metaphors relate to the framing of these issues. The article shows how both cognitive concepts can help the other address individual blind spots. While analyzing the salience of foreign policy issues tells us what issues actors attend to, metaphor analysis can shed light on how they frame these issues and indicate what policy options are made possible. At the same time, salience can help metaphor analysis identify why certain metaphors resonate better in public discourse than others. To briefly illustrate the potential of thinking salience and metaphor analysis together, the article looks into the British public debate about international terrorism and the “war on terror”.

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