Polarising metaphors in the Venezuelan Presidential Crisis

Silvia Peterssen, Augusto Soares da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 23rd of January 2019 marked the beginning of the Venezuelan Presidential Crisis, a unique socio-political conflict that confronted Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, to the self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaidó. This paper explores the divisive power of conceptual metaphors in this context through the analysis of polarising metaphors, namely, metaphors that conceptualise ‘Us’ positively and/or ‘Them’ negatively. More specifically, from a corpus-based critical socio-cognitive perspective (Musolff 2016; Soares da Silva 2020; Charteris-Black 2011), this study looks at the main polarising metaphors of Maduro and Guaidó’s political discourses and examines their role in the discursive construction of ideological polarisation, social identities, and legitimacy using a targetbased approach (Stefanowitsch and Gries 2006). The results show that both leaders strategically use polarising metaphors, especially those of confrontation, human being and journey, to reproduce their ideologies, reinforce their social identities, and legitimise their political positions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023


  • Polarising metaphor
  • Venezuela
  • Polarisation
  • Political discourse


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