SYMBOLS
Chapter 6
POLICY PARADOX
The Art of Political Decision Making
Deborah Stone
Presented by:
Mirna P Amaya
Louis Velasco
William Walders
Jingbo Yu
Gail Young
What are Symbols?
Symbols
– Anything that stands for something else.
meaning depends
Collectively created
Role
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3
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Why are symbols important in
Politics?
In what ways are Symbolic Devices
helpful in defining problems in
Politics?
Following are Key in policy
problem definition:
1 Narrative Stories
2 Synecdoches
3 Metaphors
4 Ambiguity
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How Many Devices are there
in Problem Definition?
a)
b)
c)
d)
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2
3
4
1-Narratives Stories
Which of the following represent features of
Narrative stories?
1) Often unspoken.
2) Widely shared.
3) Hold a powerful grip on our psyche.
4) Offer promise of resolution for scary
problems.
5) All of the Above.
6) None of the Above.
1 Stories
2 Broad Story lines
– Story of Decline.
Story of stymied progress.
Story of progress-is-only-an-illusion.
– Story of Helplessness and control.
Conspiracy story.
Blame the victim story.
– The two stories are often woven together.
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1 Stories
Story of Decline
Story of stymied progress.
Story of progress-is-only-an-illusion.
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1 Stories
Story of Helplessness and
control
Conspiracy story.
Blame the victim story.
– The two stories are often woven together.
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1-Stories
Why Are stories important in
Politics?
2 Synecdoche (si-nek-duh-kee)
A synecdoche is a figure of speech that
presents a kind of metaphor in which:
– A part of something is used for the whole .
– The whole is used for a part.
– The special for the general or
– The general for the special.
*Dictionary.com
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Why are Synecdoche
Important in Politics?
Source: New York Times, Feb. 7, 2005, based on
Budget of the United States FY2007.
2 Synecdoche & Policy
Why is it a powerful political strategy?
– Mislead the masses.
Horror story & worse case mentality.
– Organizing tool .
– Mobilizes anger.
– Reduces scope of an issue (more
manageable).
suddenly becomes prototype and not the entire
issue.
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3 Metaphors
Type of implied comparison.
Using a word that denotes a certain thing to
describe another.
Every policy metaphor contains assumption
that if a is like b, then you would solve both a
and b the same way.
Once sensitized, can be found everywhere.
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3 Metaphor: Types
Social institutions as
“living organisms”
“Wedges and incline”
“Containers”
Natural laws as
“unintended rewards”
War
“Machines and
mechanical devices”
“Disease””
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3 Metaphor:
Why do Language and Symbols
Matter?
Names and labels.
Strategic problem definition.
Symbolic devices.
Metaphors so often go unnoticed
because they are a part of our cultural
way.
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Examples of Metaphors
''If this keeps up, eventually these hospitals will
not be state of the art.'‘ (New York Times, Jeff
Holtz, Jan. 7, 2007)
“This year will be "make or break" for the NHS,
according to a report out today.” (Northern
Echo, Nick Bosanquet, Jan. 2, 2007)
“Shift in Congress Puts Health Care Back on the
Table; Expecting a Mixed Reaction Across the
Aisle, Democrats Plan to Offer Ideas on Drug
Cost, Safety” (The Washington Post,
Christopher Lee, Dec. 25, 2006)
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Why are Metaphors
important?
4 Ambiguity
“The most important feature of all
symbols, both in art and in politics.”
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4 Ambiguity
Define
– Ability of statements, events and experiences to have
>1meaning.
“Glue” of politics.
Agreements Possible
– Allows people to agree on laws and policies because
they can read various meanings into words.
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4 Ambiguity : Context
The context in which you find a symbol
can determine its meaning.
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4 Ambiguity
Politics: Science or art?
(if you show this diagram to different scientists
around the world they would all conclude its an
atom.)
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4 Ambiguity
Why is it essential in politics?
Multiple interpretations possible.
Makes it possible to reach a
compromises.
Leaders can gain support from different
types of people.
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4 Ambiguity
Why is it essential in politics?
People that have different policies in
mind can be grouped in one.
Brings people, who support policies for
different reasons, together.
(environmentalists and salesman).
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4 Ambiguity
Why is it essential in politics?
May avoid conflict by passing an ambiguous statute
and letting others deal with the controversial
aspects.
May solve conflict between two parties by “giving
rhetoric to one side and the decision to the other.”
May help when individuals are indecisive about
supporting a leader.
When individuals hold contradictory views, eg. on
welfare, politicians can focus on the ambiguous
symbol and not on the actual practice.
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4 Ambiguity
Why is it essential in politics?
Think about the following:
Who would You give welfare to?
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Have a Great Gator Day!
Are there any questions?
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Synecdoche - University of Florida