"Bringing FPA Back Home:" Cognition, Constructivism, and Conceptual Metaphor

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This article borrows the concept of “metaphorical framing” from cognitive linguistics and uses it to engage cognitive foreign policy analysis (CFPA) with social constructivism. By accounting for the mutual constitution of agents and social structures (on one hand), and the interaction of somatic and social meaning (on the other), metaphorical framing narrows the gap between cognitive and constructivist approaches and enriches them both. Though it claims a “middle ground” between idealism and materialism, constructivism ignores how the shared meanings that constitute actors are embodied, that is, produced by the evolved human body‐brain and its situatedness in the world. Metaphorical framing “fleshes out” constructivism, allowing it to theorize the causal micro‐foundations of constitutive effects. On the other hand, CFPA brackets the social dimension of meaning. Metaphorical framing accounts for the shared meanings that constitute actors. It explains how these meanings are instantiated in the mind, and how they shape reasoning. Accounting for intersubjectivity in decisionmaking, then, helps CFPA avoid reductionism. While narrowing the gap between two research traditions, metaphorical framing also advances theories of discourse, persuasion, rhetoric, emotion, and decisionmaking. Ultimately, metaphorical framing facilitates theoretically integrative, methodologically pluralist research on the nature and role of meaning in foreign policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-446
Number of pages23
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2011


  • Constructivism
  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • International relations
  • Cognitive science
  • Metaphor
  • Cognitive Linguistics

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