Ideographic Analysis

The ideograph is a modern rhetorical concept developed by Michael Calvin McGee and extended by his students and many others. The term literally means "idea-drawing" and is borrowed from linguistics, where it refers to a sign in an ideographic system of writing in which whole words and signs are directly represented by individual signs rather than phonetically spelled out by means of an alphabet.

In McGee's usage an ideograph is a term that carries with it by implication the entailments of a complete ideology. For instance, the term liberty might implicate the entire ideology of liberal democracy. For McGee, ideographs are "the basic building blocks of ideology." [1]] Ideographic analysis

reveals interpentrating systems of "structures" of public motives. Such structures appear to be "diachronic" and "synchronic" patterns of political consciousness which have the capacity both to control "power" and to influnce (if not determine) the shape and texture of each individual's "reality."

1. Michael Calvin McGee, "The 'Ideograph': A Link Between Rhetoric and Ideology." Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (1980): 5, 7.


Ideograph Theory and Criticism: Sources

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