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|Format: ||Paperback, 140 pages|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 04 September 2015|
What is the source of Obama s power? How is it that, after suffering a humiliating defeat in the 2010 mid-term elections, Obama was able to turn the situation around, deftly outmaneuvering his opponent and achieving a decisive victory in the November 2012 presidential election? In this short and brilliant book, Jeffrey Alexander and Bernadette Jaworsky argue that neither money nor demography can explain this dramatic turnaround. What made it possible, they show, was cultural reconstruction. Realizing he had failed to provide a compelling narrative of his power, the President began forging a new salvation story. It portrayed the Republican austerity budget as a sop to the wealthy, and Obama as a courageous hero fighting for plain folks against the rich. The reinvigorated cultural performance pushed the Tea Party off the political stage in 2011, and Mitt Romney became fodder for the script in 2012. Democrats painted their Republican opponent as a backward-looking elitist, a Bain-capitalist whose election would threaten the civil solidarity upon which democracy depends. Real world events can spoil even the most effective script. Obama faced monthly unemployment numbers, the daunting Bin Laden raid, three live debates, and Hurricane Sandy. The clumsiness of his opponent and his own good fortune helped the President, but it was the poise and felicity of his improvisations that allowed him to succeed a second time. Converting events into plot points, the President demonstrated the flair for the dramatic that has made him one of the most effective politicians of modern times. While persuasively explaining Obama s success, this book also demonstrates a fundamental but rarely appreciated truth about political power in modern democratic societies namely, that winning power and holding on to it have as much to do with the ability to use symbols effectively and tell good stories as anything else.
Table of Contents
Preface Introduction Chapter 1 The Performance of Politics Chapter 2 Symbolic Deflation Chapter 3 Re-Inflation Chapter 4 Setting the Stage Chapter 5 Unfolding the Drama Chapter 6 Pulling Ahead Chapter 7 Harrowing Home Stretch Chapter 8 Demography, Money, and Social Media Conclusion
About the Author
JEFFREY C. ALEXANDER is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University and a Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale. His many books include The Civil Sphere and The Performance of Politics: Obama s Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power. BERNADETTE N. JAWORSKY is a postdoctoral researcher and member of the faculty at Masaryk University in Brno, the Czech Republic, under a grant for the Employment of Newly Graduated Doctors of Science for Scientific Excellence.
"Alexander and Jaworsky recreate, in a completely accessible manner, the dramatic roller-coaster ride that was the 2012 campaign for the presidency. The result is a highly entertaining narrative that returns us to the improbable events of that year and puts us right in the middle of what feels like a cinematic political thriller. High marks both for storytelling and scholarship." Stanley Fish "In a post-policy world, symbols matter more than ever, making Alexander and Jaworky's thoughts on the symbolism of Barack Obama both relevant and insightful." Alan Wolfe, Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College, MA "Obama Power is a rare book. It is a page-turner, so well written and engaging that it is difficult to put down. But it also presents a compelling narrative on the performance of politics in Obama's reelection campaign, which resulted in a decisive victory. Jeffrey C. Alexander and Bernadette N. Jaworsky's illuminating and captivating study is a must-read." William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University "In late 2010 political pundits of all stripes predicted Obama's probable defeat in 2012. Why didn't this happen? This short book provides a fine-grained analysis of how Obama offered voters culturally resonant narratives to reframe how the country viewed his presidency and to rekindle the enthusiastic connection he developed with voters in 2008. As Alexander and Jaworsky compellingly show, the outcomes of political contestation can be effectively explained only if we take account of the central role played by culture." Marc Howard Ross, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus, Bryn Mawr College "In Obama Power, Jeffrey C. Alexander, our most influential social and cultural theorist of the last thirty years, and his co-author Bernadette N. Jaworsky deploy performance theory to explain Obama's unexpected landslide in the 2012 Presidential election. This highly readable and accessible book skillfully draws on social media as well as standard forms of political communication. The authors demonstrate how Obama's conservative opponents failed to derail his focused performance of 'univeralism and solidarity' that swept him once more to victory. Alexander and Jaworsky's exciting new take on the 2012 US presidential election is a must read for concerned citizens as well as academics interested in evolving practices of American democracy." Mabel Berezin, Cornell University
20.9 x 14.2 x 1.4 centimetres (0.67 kg)|
15+ years |