The Performance of Politics Obama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-11-10
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Jeffrey Alexander, a preeminent figure in social theory, offers here a new way of looking at democratic struggles for political power, discussing what happened, and why, during Barack Obama's remarkable run for president. Illustrated with vivid examples drawn from a range of media coverage, participant observation at a Camp Obama, and interviews with leading political journalists, Alexander argues that images, emotion, and performance are the central features of the battle for power. Winning depends on creating images so that candidates can become heroes. Demography, strategy, money, and issues matter, but power goes to the candidate with the most persuasive performances---whose carefully constructed heroic image resonates best with the audience of citizens. Though an untested Senator, Obama's moving performances succeeded in casting him as the hero and as the only candidate fit to lead in challenging times. As he sheds new light on modern politics, Alexander also conveys the immediacy and excitement of the final months of the historic 2008 presidential campaign.

Author Biography

Jeffrey C. Alexander is Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University, and a Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology. He is also the author or editor of numerous books, including The Civil Sphere (OUP 2006) and The Meanings of Social Life (OUP 2003).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Prologuep. 1
Power, Performance, and Representation
Civil Sphere and Public Dramap. 7
Becoming a Collective Representationp. 17
Spirit of the Ground Gamep. 39
Heroes, Binaries, and Boundaries
Imagining Heroesp. 63
Working the Binariesp. 89
Walking the Boundariesp. 111
Victory and Defeat
Celebrity Metaphorp. 163
Palin Effectp. 193
Financial Crisisp. 243
Epiloguep. 267
Note on Concept and Methodp. 275
Appendixp. 297
Notesp. 305
Indexp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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