Exploration of metaphors used by Indonesian legislators and political elites in the Indonesian sociopolitical domain

  • Mara Ritonga

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis examines the ways Indonesian politicians exploit the rhetorical power of metaphors in the Indonesian political discourse. The research applies the Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Metaphorical Frame Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis to textual and oral data. The corpus comprises: 150 political news articles from two newspapers (Harian Kompas and Harian Waspada, 2010-2011 edition), 30 recordings of two television news and talk-show programmes (TV-One and Metro-TV), and 20 interviews with four legislators, two educated persons and two laymen. For this study, a corpus of written bahasa Indonesia was also compiled, which comprises 150 texts of approximately 439,472 tokens. The data analysis shows the potential power of metaphors in relation to how politicians communicate the results of their thinking, reasoning and meaning-making through language and discourse and its social consequences.
    The data analysis firstly revealed 1155 metaphors. These metaphors were then classified into the categories of conventional metaphor, cognitive function of metaphor, metaphorical mapping and metaphor variation. The degree of conventionality of metaphors is established based on the sum of expressions in each group of metaphors. Secondly, the analysis revealed that metaphor variation is influenced by the broader Indonesian cultural context and the natural and physical environment, such as the social dimension, the regional, style and the individual. The mapping system of metaphor is unidirectionality. Thirdly, the data show that metaphoric thought pervades political discourse in relation to its uses as: (1) a felicitous tool for the rhetoric of political leaders, (2) part of meaning-making that keeps the discourse contexts alive and active, and (3) the degree to which metaphor and discourse shape the conceptual structures of politicians‟ rhetoric. Fourthly, the analysis of data revealed that the Indonesian political discourse attempts to create both distance and solidarity towards general and specific social categories accomplished via metaphorical and frame references to the conceptualisations of us/them.
    The result of the analysis shows that metaphor and frame are excellent indicators of the us/them categories which work dialectically in the discourse. The acts of categorisation via metaphors and frames at both textual and conceptual level activate asymmetrical concepts and contribute to social and political hierarchical constructs, i.e. WEAKNESS vs.POWER, STUDENT vs. TEACHER, GHOST vs. CHOSEN WARRIOR, and so on. This analysis underscores the dynamic nature of categories by documenting metaphorical transfers between, i.e. ENEMY, DISEASE, BUSINESS, MYSTERIOUS OBJECT and CORRUPTION, LAW, POLITICS and CASE. The metaphorical transfers showed that politicians try to dictate how they categorise each other in order to mobilise audiences to act on behalf of their ideologies and to create distance and solidarity.
    Date of Award3 Sept 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorUrszula I Clark (Supervisor) & Carol N Marley (Supervisor)


    • metaphor
    • mapping system
    • frame
    • discourse
    • social categories
    • politicians

    Cite this