Figurative Frames in Political Communication

Registration is free. Please register here:

Many political actors use figurative language to frame political topics. Consider politicians describing immigration as a “flood” (Gabrielatos & Baker, 2008), Brexit as a “divorce” (e.g., Musolff, 2017) or political institutions as a “swamp” (Widmer, 2017). Such figurative frames can have important implications for political communication (Burgers, Konijn & Steen, 2016).

In this talk, Christian Burgers presents an overview of current theory and research on figurative framing.
First, he will connect linguistic theories on figurative language to theories on framing from the field of political communication. Subsequently, he will discuss how figurative frames are used in political discourse, affect voters’ political attitudes, and change over time. Taken together, results demonstrate howfigurative frames structure and color political communication.

About the speaker

Christian Burgers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands). In his research, he studies the use and effects of metaphor, hyperbole and irony across domains of discourse. He is a member of the management team of the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam.

The event is organised and hosted by Creative Multilingualism, a research programme led by the University of Oxford and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Open World Research Initiative.
Participation is free and open to the public.

To participate, please register on Eventbrite, at this link:


Burgers, C., Konijn, E. A., & Steen, G. J. (2016). Figurative framing: Shaping public discourse through metaphor, hyperbole, and irony. Communication Theory, 26(4), 410-430.
Gabrielatos, C., & Baker, P. (2008). Fleeing, sneaking, flooding: A corpus analysis of discursive constructions of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press, 1996-2005. Journal of English Linguistics, 36(1), 5-38.
Musolff, A. (2017). Truths, lies and figurative scenarios: Metaphors at the heart of Brexit. Journal of Language and Politics, 16(5), 641-657.
Widmer, T. (2017, January 19). Draining the swamp. The New Yorker,