Focus On Metaphors: The Case Of “Frankenfood” On The Web


  • Iina Hellsten

    Corresponding author
    1. Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam School of Communications Research. She is Associate Fellow on the Nerdi group at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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The metaphor of “Frankenfood” rapidly spread into popular use at the end of the 1990s, to the extent that it was even added to the New Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 2000 edition. The metaphor gained wide popularity at least partly because of the active campaigns of various NGOs on their Web pages. The metaphor was also widely used in more informal e-mail and newsgroups on the Web, and seemed to provide common ground for different discourses. In this article, I explore the way metaphors relate different discourses on the Internet. This approach may open up new ways of analyzing both the network structure on the Internet, and the substantial aspects of the debate within the network. I first follow the development of the metaphor of “Frankenfood” over time, and then I map the uses of the metaphor by various sites on the Web. The aim is to discuss the role of metaphors as tools of communication by combining diachronic analysis of the expanding network around the metaphor with the static snapshots of the main sites' textual structure.