Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The metaphor of the body politic is part of many English speakers' daily language. The analogy is employed to conceptualize and attribute an organic or biological nature to political institutions. Comparing a state to a body facilitates the rationalization, analysis, and comprehension of its various functions. For example, presidents or premiers are called heads of state, and press secretaries are their voices; or sometimes civil strife is described as wounding a state. The body metaphor brings to mind an orderly hierarchy where a head leader directs and controls the action of the rest of the body as it recognizes the necessity of harmonious cooperation between all of its “members” for sustenance. Imagining a state or a political institution as a body politic has a long history that spans the centuries of Western civilization. Generally, the analogy has a strong autocratic or monarchial connotation that implies subordination. This entry reviews the ...