Alienation, Ideology, and Power in the Metaphors Depicting the Economic Crisis in the Media

Eleonora Piromalli


In this article, I carry out a critical analysis of the two predominant categories of metaphors used in Western media to report the 2008 economic crisis: the metaphors representing the crisis as a disease and the ones depicting it as a natural disaster. First, I argue that these metaphors implicitly portray the markets as natural organisms, governed by their own laws and spontaneously tending toward equilibrium. Second, through reference to the philosophical concept of alienation, I show how they can be used to communicate an alienated view of the economy. Far from being innocent journalistic simplifications of complex issues, these metaphors can be very effective in ideologically presenting the neoliberal perspective and its account of the crisis as the only possible ones. By specifically examining the metaphors of the economic crisis as a disease and as a natural disaster, I also discuss how they convey a representation of the crisis which absolves some actors, blames others, and promotes as obvious the neoliberal account of the economy.


metaphors, economic crisis, alienation, ideology, 2008

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