This text develops a new way of looking at democratic struggles for big time power by explaining and analysing the 2008 presidential campaign in the United States
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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---the one 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.
This is a very convincing resource and other sociologists should take note; sometimes the best sociology is that which reveals itself through brilliant analysis and storytelling - not through mere self-advertisment.
Andreas Hess, Times Higher Education Supplement||Although the theories and terms that underpin The Performance of Politics come from sociology rather than politics, Alexander is able to justify their use in election analysis, and avoids the trap of making his work inaccessible to those outside his discipline. He then uses a wide variety of sources to back up his arguments, even constructing his own set of aggregate polling figures. He also manages to avoid many of the clichés that dominate other accounts of Obamas victory,
for instance downplaying the importance of Obamas internet presence.
Matthew Partridge on the LSE blog||[a] remarkable analysis of Barack Obama's presidential campaign ... This is a very convincing resource and other sociologists should take note; sometimes the best sociology is that which reveals itself through brilliant analysis and storytelling - not through mere self-advertisement.