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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by Akademie Verlag November 23, 2016

Die Krise als Krankheit

Medizinische Metaphern in aktuellen Darstellungen von Finanzkrisen

Nina Peter and Oliver Lubrich


The article examines the conceptual metaphor of illness in representations of financial crises. Understanding the economy in terms of the body is one of the dominant concepts in contemporary media coverage on economic events. Accordingly, images of illness proliferate in the discourse on the financial crisis of 2008/2009. This paper presents a quantitative analysis of illness metaphors in 53 articles on the financial crisis published from August 2008 to September 2009 in the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel. The journalistic metaphors of illness interpret the financial crisis as a disease and thus naturalize the economic events. The second part of the article analyzes an alternative use of illness metaphors in literary and autobiographical texts on traders. Instead of understanding the economy as a victim of an illness, these texts ascribe an infectious quality to the economic system. In these representations the financial economy is criticized for causing diseases not only of its participants, but of the society in general.

JEL Classification: B 20; N 20
Published Online: 2016-11-23
Published in Print: 2016-11-1

© 2016 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston