The persuasive (and manipulative) power of metaphor in ‘austerity’ discourse

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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.


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