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First steps into the metaphoric wilderness of macroeconomics

David Starr-Glass (Adjunct Faculty Member, Department of Communication and Mass Media, University of New York in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic and Empire State College, State University of New York, Saratoga Springs, New York, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 23 September 2014




The purpose of this article is to analyze the decline of two central metaphors of macroeconomics, economics and markets, and suggests ways in which metaphoric vigor can be initiated to promote economic reflection, inter-disciplinary collaboration, and more productive engagement with the broader society. Economics and markets can be described as dead metaphors which have ceased to provide any metaphoric advantage or potential but which nevertheless remain central to economic discourse. At a time when economics is coming under societal scrutiny and being asked to explain its assumptions, predictive ability and social impact, the perceived distance and sterility of economic language presents a significant problem.


The central approach is an analysis of the ways in which metaphor come into being, provide regenerative insights and communicate open and creative discourse. Metaphor theory is introduced, as are theoretical considerations on the decline of conceptual metaphor through over familiarization.


Metaphor in economics is underexplored and this article suggests that a more engaged and creative approach will provide benefit within the discipline and will be necessary to sustain the ongoing discourse with those outside the field.


This article provides new insight into the problems associated with the failure to recognize and to resuscitate metaphor in macroeconomics. It provides original perspectives on the problem, and presents novel suggestions for reducing the communication difficulties that metaphor failure has produced, particularly in communicating economic perspectives with the broader society.



The author wishes to thanks Dr Tom P. Abeles (editor), Tanweer Ali (guest editor) and two anonymous reviewers for the constructive suggestions and assistance during the submission process.


Starr-Glass, D. (2014), "First steps into the metaphoric wilderness of macroeconomics", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 229-238.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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