Manuel Garin e-mail(Login required) , Ana-Aitana Fernández e-mail(Login required)

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Manuel Garin e-mail(Login required)
Ana-Aitana Fernández e-mail(Login required)



The media help to construct the visual and iconographic imagery of economic power in the dialectical tension between what they show and what they leave out of view. Images such as unemployment queues, graphs, and portraits of the powerful appear assiduously on the front pages of the press, revealing different visual motifs essential to understanding the narrative of the economy, with its inheritances, mutations and hierarchies, which point to its relationship with other spheres of power such as the monarchy or politics. This article attempts to decipher the codes of visual representation of the economic sphere in Spain through the qualitative analysis of front-page photographs published in El País, El Mundo and La Vanguardia from 2011 to 2013, a period marked by the banking and financial crisis, civil protests, or the judicial prosecution of figures such as Rodrigo Rato. The methodology used combines visual analysis and comparative iconography with theoretical foundations of social semiotics and visual communication, as well as interviews with photojournalists and chiefs of staff. Finally, the results conclude that both economic leaders and the media codify their photographs using specific visual motifs to project a distant and proactive image of the banking elite, which is only disrupted when previously revered figures of the economic elite fall from grace in corruption cases. And also, that in the dialectic of the visible and the invisible of economic power there are hidden historical moments that can never be photographed.


Power, economy, visual motif, financial crisis, photojournalism, history, media


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Special Issue: Visual motifs and representations of power in the public sphere