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Crisis perception in financial media discourse: a concrete application using the Minskian/mainstream opposition

Marc Pilkington (Associate Professor of Economics at LEDi, University of Burgundy, Dijon, France)
Christine Sinapi (Associate Professor and Head of Department at CEREN/MECIC, Burgundy School of Business, Dijon, France)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 23 September 2014




The purpose of this article is to highlight the need for renewed collaborative efforts between linguists and economists to develop a multidisciplinary approach to discourse studies to single out, in the case at hand, how financial media discourse might reflect either a prevailing mainstream or a Minskian conceptual apparatus in financial crisis related papers.


The paper conducts exploratory research by focusing on semantic analysis, so as to indicate how the latter might possibly indicate a shift in the prevailing framework in contemporary financial media discourse. After a clear exposition of a theoretical dichotomy between the Minskian and mainstream approaches, it relies on Tropes software to conduct applied discourse analysis and discover evidence for the aforementioned shift. It exploits a set of three crisis-related articles from the Financial Times written by Martin Wolf. The selected corpora consist of opinion articles, a genre believed to be both emblematic of financial media discourse and subject to the influence of underlying theoretical frameworks.


The paper has identified a convincing Minskian vs mainstream dichotomy that may be substantiated by a set of disciplinary criteria. It argues that these criteria can be further used in applied discourse analysis. It demonstrates the relevance of our methodology from the exploratory test conducted. Eventually, these exploratory results, although they remain embryonic, suggest that a shift in the conceptual frameworks underlying the media discourses has taken place, from the Mainstream in fair weather conditions to (possibly) a more Minskian framework in times of crisis and financial instability.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size is extremely restricted (albeit acceptable in an exploratory research context); these limitations are inherent in exploratory research and do not preclude the validity of the broader interdisciplinary research agenda. In our proposed theoretical dichotomy, the mainstream approach is subject to caution insofar as no single and consensual definition of the latter exists to date in the literature.

Social implications

This article has highlighted the need for further multidisciplinary collaborative research endeavors (in particular, linguistics and economics). It has also touched the issue of crisis prevention and early warning systems, which may include financial press monitoring.


There exists a powerful media sphere within which financial discourse may exert an influence on decision-makers through the influence of underlying theoretical frameworks, eventually shaping real economic outcomes. The research program initiated, by combining the insights of economics and linguistics; therefore, aims to uncover the modus operandi of financial media discourse.



The authors would like to thank Catherine Resche and the anonymous reviewers for their comments and support.


Pilkington, M. and Sinapi, C. (2014), "Crisis perception in financial media discourse: a concrete application using the Minskian/mainstream opposition", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 280-296.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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