In this contribution to the growing literature on conceptual metaphor as a fruitful heuristic for qualitative analysis, the authors re-analyzed transcripts of college student discussions of problematic situations involving cultural diversity and interpersonal conflict. The authors show how they identified metaphorical linguistic expressions and from them derived three conceptual metaphors (life is a journey, the problem is a barrier/maze, and the self is divided) that in turn formed patterns or constellations of meanings in students’ problem-solving strategies. As an interpretive tool, conceptual metaphors link certain isolated individual metaphors to these larger patterns of meaning, including ideological frameworks readily available in US culture.


Conceptual Metaphor, Metaphor Analysis, Qualitative Data Analysis, Political Worldviews, Cultural Diversity, and College Students


We are grateful to William Seaburg, whose feedback and insight enriched our understanding of conceptual metaphors as we developed this paper.

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