Figurative Framing

The research program ‘Figurative Framing’ is supported by a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, grant 275-89-020). Below, you find a summary of the project.

‘The euro is Hotel California: You can check in, but never leave’. With this frame combining metaphor (euro as Hotel California), hyperbole (leaving euro: absolutely impossible), and irony (in the Eagle’s song, luxury Hotel California is a nightmarish place), Dutch PM Mark Rutte recently argued against the Greeks leaving the eurozone.

While such figurative frames (specific combinations of metaphor, hyperbole and/or irony) are used to construct and evaluate public discourse, current theories and research typically address only one type of figuration in isolation. However, many of these figurative frames could get their power from specifically combining types of figuration (metaphor, hyperbole, irony). These combinative effects are not addressed in current theory.

Therefore, I will design and empirically validate a complex, interdisciplinary model for different configurations of figurative frames and their occurrence, power and evolution in public discourse. This interdisciplinary model will bridge theoretical perspectives from linguistics (on figurative language) and communication science (on framing). To accomplish this goal, my project focuses on public debates on financial policies and consists of three stages.

Stage 1: To map the occurrence of figurative frames, I will conduct a synchronic corpus analysis of financial news across different Dutch print and social media from 2012.

Stage 2: To investigate the power of figurative frames, I will conduct experiments and causally establish how figurative frames affect reader’s thoughts on and attitudes towards financial policies.

Stage 3: To study how figurative frames evolve and change over time, I will conduct case studies of news on three important nwo-logo-vierkant-150x150financial policy issues (1. banking bonuses, 2. financial ethics, 3. fiscal policy) across different Dutch print and online media (2000-2012).

In all, results will provide important insights into how figurative frames structure and color public debates on financial policies, which will provide guidelines to optimize such debates.