Financial markets and authoritative proximity in personal finance magazines

Roei Davidson

This study investigates how mediated discourse about finance developed in the USA in parallel to the shift from a corporate liberal political economic order to a neoliberal one. This is done by analyzing two personal finance magazines, Money and Kiplinger’s, utilizing both critical discourse analysis and longitudinal quantitative content analysis (1947–2008). I find that at the core of this discursive environment lies the phenomenon of authoritative proximity, which positions the magazines as trusted advisors guiding the audience, a collection of individuals, towards financial autonomy through immersion in financial markets. Authoritative proximity is constituted by second person address forms, imperative mood and paratactic syntax – all elements whose salience rises over time. This discourse, which makes the abstract financial system increasingly more concrete and focused on the individual, is compatible with the emergence of a neoliberal political economy.

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