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Satirical Depictions of the European Union : A Semiotic Analysis of Political Cartoons on the 2004 Enlargement and 2009-2012 Eurozone Debt Crisis


  • Tra Pham

Summary, in English

This study examines the visual representations of the European Union (EU) in political cartoons on the 2004 enlargement and the 2009-2012 Eurozone debt crisis, and the interactions between these depictions and Europe’s socio-political order. Carried out on fourteen political cartoons (out of a 300-cartoon corpus), the visual analysis is based on the theories of traditional semiotics, social semiotics, and metaphor. The analysis results show that the cartoonists’ depictions of the EU bear a strong resemblance to the popular discourse. The EU is often depicted as a disunited political entity, whose orientation and action are decided by pragmatism and national egoism of its individual member states. The EU’s power structure and national / regional stereotypes are also emphasised in the political cartoons. These satirical representations form a dissenting voice against the EU, but can also contribute to the naturalisation of Europe’s socio-political order. This complex process depends on both the viewers’ interpretation and the whole media “ecosystem” surrounding the cartoons.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • political cartoon
  • metaphor
  • stereotype
  • semiotics
  • social semiotics
  • European Union
  • EU enlargement
  • debt crisis
  • European public sphere


  • Barbara Törnquist-Plewa