Professions and Metaphors: Understanding Professions in Society – Københavns Universitet

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08. november 2016

Professions and Metaphors: Understanding Professions in Society

Associate Professor Inge Kryger Pedersen contributed to the book "Professions and Metaphors: Understanding Professions in Society" with the chapter "Professions and Metaphors".

Through the visual power of metaphors, this book casts new light on the study of professional occupations such as medicine, education and social work. Inge Kryger Pedersen’s chapter on the medical profession notes that metaphors are a common way to describe life and death as well as symptoms of illness and health. Suffering, pain and many symptoms can meaningfully be represented only in metaphors. While their employment by patients and clients is relatively well studied, this chapter explores the less well analyzed area of how doctors use mechanical metaphors to explain disease in their encounter with patients, for example the urinary tract as the ‘waterworks’, and in speaking of themselves as ‘controllers of disease’. Tensions inherent in the doctor’s role are examined by analyzing the use of conceptual metaphors as a reassuring signal of expertise, whether it is paternalistic or consumeristic, or within these polar extremes. It is argued that engagement with professional metaphors can facilitate an understanding about authorized expertise and professional jurisdictions. 

The book provides a systematic overview of metaphors in the sociology of professions. It shows how metaphors can enhance our understanding of professional groups and how they operate in society as well as professional practice itself.

Inge Kryger Pedersen: Metaphors in medical practice. A jurisdictional tool. In: Liljegren, A. & Saks, M. (Eds.): Professions and Metaphors. Understanding professions in society. London and New York: Routledge 2016.