The language of seige: Military metaphors in the spoken language of Social Work

Chris Beckett

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29 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the language that is used by children and family social workers when talking about their work, and specifically the metaphors that such language draws upon. The question of the relationship between language and reality that has been raised by postmodernist theory is considered, but it is argued that it remains sensible to see language as ‘a reflection of reality’, however partial. Drawing on ideas about metaphor from other disciplines, it is suggested that by identifying the sources of metaphors used in spoken language it is possible to gain insights into underlying mental concepts. Metaphors in the language of social work are found to come from several sources, including medicine, business and industry, but attention is drawn here in particular to terms with military connotations, implying underlying conceptual metaphors that equate social work with war. The implications of this are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-639
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2003

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