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The strategic use of metaphors by political and media elites: the 2007-11 Belgian constitutional crisis

Cammaerts, Bart ORCID: 0000-0002-9508-5128 (2012) The strategic use of metaphors by political and media elites: the 2007-11 Belgian constitutional crisis. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 8 (2/3). pp. 229-249. ISSN 1740-8296

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Identification Number: 10.1386/macp.8.2-3.229_1


On 9 December 2011 a new Belgian government was sworn in after a record-breaking 541 days of negotiations between all democratic political forces with the aim to alter the constitution and provide more autonomy to the different regions that make up Belgium. In this article, the frequent use of political metaphors by North-Belgian politicians and journalists is analysed through a critical metaphor analysis (CMA) that approaches the different metaphors at a descriptive, an interpretative and a motivational level. Four meta-categories of metaphors were identified - sports and games metaphors, war metaphors, culinary metaphors and transport metaphors. The different metaphors fed into six core frames: expressing immobility, attributing blame, the need for unity, bargaining and teasing, the end is nigh and finally lack of direction and leadership. Metaphors were instrumental in strategies to present the Flemish demands as unquestionable and common sense, while the counter-demands of the French-speaking parties were positioned as unreasonable, impossible to accept. In other words, the strategic use of metaphors, some of which resonated throughout the long period of analysis, not only served to represent complex political issues in an easily digestible language, but also shaped and influenced the negotiations through their various mediations and the ideological intentions embedded within the metaphor.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Intellect Ltd.
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2013 14:03
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 14:29

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