The persuasive (and manipulative) power of metaphor in ‘austerity’ discourse
This chapter analyses the persuasive power of metaphors used in the Portuguese press to justify the implementation of harsh austerity policies. The analysis relies on a corpus of news and opinion articles published in June-July 2011, after the entry of the Troika, and May 2013, when protests against the austerity policies intensified. The study adopts a socio-cognitive view of language following the promising convergence between Cognitive Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis, and the corpus-based and critical discourse-based approach to conceptual metaphor. Using the target-domain method for corpus-based metaphor identification, 1,151 austerity-related metaphorical expressions associated with eight target lexemes were gathered, which include great chain of being, image schemas, and event/action metaphors. The analysis reveals the persuasive and manipulative force of certain specific metaphors, such as obesity/diet, indebted family, good student, and sacrifice. These socially-embodied metaphors are grounding in moral cultural models and serve ideological, emotional and moral purposes.