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Narrating the EU : How metaphors help to understand and explain the European Union


  • Franziska Seufert

Summary, in English

With many people not really understanding what the European Union is and how it works the EU is left to fight a lack of interest, identification and participation. The present thesis approaches the problem by looking at the linguistic and rhetorical device of metaphors as a popular means of creating understanding by explaining a complex topic in a transferred
way. Numerous metaphors exist in EU discourse and some of them established themselves over the course of time. Examples of such metaphors were found in (political) speeches, newspaper articles or public opinions about the EU. Seeing a narrative in those metaphors, this thesis works with narrative analysis entirely based on content, to find the best allround metaphor. When getting the impression that such a metaphor might not exist, and in
connection with different parties demanding for a new EU narrative, a new metaphor is introduced as a hypothetical new or even most all-round metaphor. By comparing the established and new metaphors, differences and similarities are brought out. The basic insight from said approach is that metaphors are relevant in the EU discourse and can be designed to explain the entire EU instead of only parts of the whole structure. Nevertheless, in the framework of their all-round narrative of the EU, most metaphors still seem to focus on one aspect or one situation only. Most metaphors are worked from a certain angle as well, like being positive or negative, or coming from an insiders or outsiders point of view. The new metaphor manages to avoid several of such shortcomings. The study shows that metaphors are good examples of how to narratively explain the EU, especially to EU citizens. It underlines the importance of not only seeing politics and facts all the time, but working with more subjective and human components, as well, even if it concerns seemingly political structures such as the EU.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • General Works


  • EU
  • European Union
  • metaphors
  • European Studies
  • narrative analysis
  • rhetorics


  • Tomas Sniegon