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I came across a sentence which was:

Shahid's gaze was not political in the sense of being framed in terms of policy and solutions.

Merriam Webster dictionaries define "gaze" as: A fixed intent look. So I gather it means perspective here. But can they be used interchangeably?

  • No, you can't use gaze like this. Why did you think you might be able to? – FumbleFingers Feb 28 at 16:39
  • According to Oxford dictionaries "gaze" can also mean- (in literary theory) a particular perspective considered as embodying certain aspects of the relationship between observer and observed – user81138 Feb 28 at 17:09
  • The example is quite reasonable, if the audience will understand it - it means the frame or context in which Shahid is looking at things, basically. But don't start dropping it everywhere you would use perspective, because it will be wrong 99% of the time. – SamBC Feb 28 at 22:35
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The exact wording from the Oxford definition:

gaze (n): 1.1 (in literary theory) a particular perspective considered as embodying certain aspects of the relationship between observer and observed.

Dictionaries don't always give you all the details, but in this case the qualifier "in literary theory" is pretty important. You may be able to use "gaze" in this way if you are writing a high-level literary or media critique, but not in ordinary conversation. Example:

The “male gaze” invokes the sexual politics of the gaze and suggests a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women. In the male gaze, woman is visually positioned as an “object” of heterosexual male desire. Her feelings, thoughts and her own sexual drives are less important than her being “framed” by male desire.

This is a somehat academic use of "gaze" to describe a particular point of view. It should be considered jargon to be used in relevant writing.

Otherwise "gaze" should refer to a steady, intent look, or at least a focus in a particular direction. Example:

Shahid gazed over the bustling city, filled with an intense satisfaction at all the familiar sights. "I'm finally home," he sighed.

In the context of your example, use "perspective" or one of the many synonyms: view, viewpoint, point of view, opinion, conviction, philosophy, etc. Or you can keep it simple:

Shahid's thought (as related to his country's government) was not political in the sense of being framed in terms of policy and solutions. Rather, first and foremost, he judged the character of those in power.

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