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Metaphors in search of a target: the curious case of epigenetics.

Stelmach A, Nerlich B - New Genet Soc (2015)

Bottom Line: Carrying out research in genetics and genomics and communicating about them would not be possible without metaphors such as "information," "code," "letter" or "book." Genetic and genomic metaphors have remained relatively stable for a long time but are now beginning to shift in the context of synthetic biology and epigenetics.Findings show that while source domains for metaphors can be identified, such as our knowledge of electrical switches or of bookmarks, it is difficult to pinpoint target domains for such metaphors.This may be indicative both of struggles over what epigenetics means for scientists (natural and social) and of difficulties associated with talking about this, as yet, young field in the popular press.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Sociology and Social Policy, Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham , Nottingham , UK.

ABSTRACT

Carrying out research in genetics and genomics and communicating about them would not be possible without metaphors such as "information," "code," "letter" or "book." Genetic and genomic metaphors have remained relatively stable for a long time but are now beginning to shift in the context of synthetic biology and epigenetics. This article charts the emergence of metaphors in the context of epigenetics, first through collecting some examples of metaphors in scientific and popular writing and second through a systematic analysis of metaphors used in two UK broadsheets. Findings show that while source domains for metaphors can be identified, such as our knowledge of electrical switches or of bookmarks, it is difficult to pinpoint target domains for such metaphors. This may be indicative both of struggles over what epigenetics means for scientists (natural and social) and of difficulties associated with talking about this, as yet, young field in the popular press.

No MeSH data available.


Genomics, synthetic biology and epigenetics on Google Ngram viewer (Google books).
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Figure 0002: Genomics, synthetic biology and epigenetics on Google Ngram viewer (Google books).

Mentions: What some call the “epigenetic revolution” (Carey 2012) has to be kept in perspective though, as Figure 2, derived from Google Ngram viewer (https://books.google.com/ngrams), shows. Genomics is still the main topic of research since around 1995 (and the term post-genomics, which is so often used in conjunction with epigenetics in social science literature, does not really get a look-in).Figure 2.


Metaphors in search of a target: the curious case of epigenetics.

Stelmach A, Nerlich B - New Genet Soc (2015)

Genomics, synthetic biology and epigenetics on Google Ngram viewer (Google books).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4440632&req=5

Figure 0002: Genomics, synthetic biology and epigenetics on Google Ngram viewer (Google books).
Mentions: What some call the “epigenetic revolution” (Carey 2012) has to be kept in perspective though, as Figure 2, derived from Google Ngram viewer (https://books.google.com/ngrams), shows. Genomics is still the main topic of research since around 1995 (and the term post-genomics, which is so often used in conjunction with epigenetics in social science literature, does not really get a look-in).Figure 2.

Bottom Line: Carrying out research in genetics and genomics and communicating about them would not be possible without metaphors such as "information," "code," "letter" or "book." Genetic and genomic metaphors have remained relatively stable for a long time but are now beginning to shift in the context of synthetic biology and epigenetics.Findings show that while source domains for metaphors can be identified, such as our knowledge of electrical switches or of bookmarks, it is difficult to pinpoint target domains for such metaphors.This may be indicative both of struggles over what epigenetics means for scientists (natural and social) and of difficulties associated with talking about this, as yet, young field in the popular press.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Sociology and Social Policy, Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham , Nottingham , UK.

ABSTRACT

Carrying out research in genetics and genomics and communicating about them would not be possible without metaphors such as "information," "code," "letter" or "book." Genetic and genomic metaphors have remained relatively stable for a long time but are now beginning to shift in the context of synthetic biology and epigenetics. This article charts the emergence of metaphors in the context of epigenetics, first through collecting some examples of metaphors in scientific and popular writing and second through a systematic analysis of metaphors used in two UK broadsheets. Findings show that while source domains for metaphors can be identified, such as our knowledge of electrical switches or of bookmarks, it is difficult to pinpoint target domains for such metaphors. This may be indicative both of struggles over what epigenetics means for scientists (natural and social) and of difficulties associated with talking about this, as yet, young field in the popular press.

No MeSH data available.