Publication details [#19624711]

De Backer, Laurence and Renata Enghels. 2022. The persuasive potential of metaphor when framing Mexican migrants and migration: A comparative study of the US written press. Metaphor and the Social World 22 (1).
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Research into the persuasive quality of metaphor has a long standing tradition, with the topic of migration embodying one of its pet discourse genres. Yet, only few studies have recognized the existence of identical metaphors occurring across the ideological divide. The present paper explores the way in which three US-based news outlets with broadly different group alignments and overall attitudes in relation to the issue of migration wield metaphor to frame the Mexican migration debate in the US. The data suggests that, contrary to what one might expect, the mayor point of variation between these news instances does not consist in a predilection for idiosyncratic source domains. Rather, the three news sources appear to diverge most significantly in their situational use of similar metaphors. On a methodological plane, this case study illustrates the necessity of inspecting metaphor frames more closely, attending to their semantic roles and broader context, if we want to make assertions about the ideological implications and potential social impact of metaphor on public opinion formation. On a social and theoretical level, it sheds light on the ways in which these three news outlets employ metaphors to construct the social identity of ‘Mexican migrants’ living in the US in line with their stance on the matter, and to a possibly persuasive effect.