Naturalizing, normalizing and neutralizing: Metaphors framing the global financial crisis in Nordic banks*

Ulla Forseth, Emil A. Røyrvik, Stewart Clegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In this paper we discuss metaphors and rhetoric characterizing rationalizations of past banking practices after the global financial crisis of 2008. We draw on qualitative data from six Nordic banks, 2008–2012. Financial advisers and managers sourced their accounts from everyday materials, including popular metaphors and symbols that patterned thought and practice in financial institutions, even in these outposts of the global economy. Vivid metaphors taken from folk tales, nature, food, drink and the spiritual realm were highly suggestive in terms of guiding thought and action and enabling changes in sensemaking and impression management. Metaphors were used both to highlight and to hide phenomena, structures and agency. The analysis provides three main interpretative templates or frames co-constituted by a variety of metaphors, utilized to legitimize banking practices; ‘naturalization’, ‘normalization’ and ‘neutralization’, demonstrating in different ways the practice of doing good, while also revealing unethical practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-174
JournalCulture And Organization
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • ethics
  • Global financial crisis
  • impression management
  • interpretative templates
  • metaphors and framing

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