Justice ‘Under’ Law: The Bodily Incarnation of Legal Conceptions Over Time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The article uses embodiment and the experiential basis of conceptual metaphor to argue for the metaphorical essence of abstract legal thought. Abstract concepts like ‘law’ and ‘justice’ need to borrow from a spatial, bodily, or physical prototype in order to be conceptualised, seen, for example, in the fact that justice preferably is found ‘under’ law. Three conceptual categories of how law is conceptualised is examined: law as an object, law as a vertical relation, and law as an area. The Google Ngram Viewer, based on the massive library of books that Google has scanned, has been used to study legally relevant conceptions over time within each of these three categories, from 1800 to 2000. In addition, the article suggests a type of analytical method of ‘metaphor triangulation,’ that is, the replacement of prevailing metaphors with unusual ones in order to increase the level of awareness of what conceptual content the prevailing metaphors involve.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Work Sciences
  • Information Systems, Social aspects


  • Embodiment, Conceptual metaphor, Law and justice, Law and embodiment, Law and metaphor
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-626
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

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Stefan Larsson


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