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

Overview

Contemporary observers of politics in America often reduce democracy to demography. Whatever portion of the vote not explained by the class, gender, race, and religious differences of voters is attributed to the candidates' positions on the issues of the day. But are these the only—or even the main—factors that determine the vote?

The Performance of Politics develops a new way of looking at democratic struggles for power, explaining what happened, and why, during the 2008 ...

See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$22.75
BN.com price
(Save 8%)$24.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (31) from $5.00   
  • New (15) from $6.29   
  • Used (16) from $5.00   
The Performance of Politics: Obama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.49
BN.com price
(Save 43%)$23.99 List Price

Overview

Contemporary observers of politics in America often reduce democracy to demography. Whatever portion of the vote not explained by the class, gender, race, and religious differences of voters is attributed to the candidates' positions on the issues of the day. But are these the only—or even the main—factors that determine the vote?

The Performance of Politics develops a new way of looking at democratic struggles for power, explaining what happened, and why, during the 2008 presidential campaign in the United States. Drawing on vivid examples taken from a range of media coverage, participant observation at a Camp Obama, and interviews with leading political journalists, Jeffrey Alexander argues that images, emotion, and performance are the central features of the battle for power. While these features have been largely overlooked by pundits, they are, in fact, the primary foci of politicians and their staff. Obama and McCain painstakingly constructed heroic self-images for their campaigns and the successful projections of those images suffused not only each candidate's actual rallies, and not only their media messages, but also the ground game. Money and organization facilitate the ground game, but they do not determine it. Emotion, images, and performance do. Though an untested senator and the underdog in his own party, Obama succeeded in casting himself as the hero—and McCain the anti-hero—and the only candidate fit to lead in challenging times.

Illuminating the drama of Obama's celebrity, the effect of Sarah Palin on the race, and the impact of the emerging financial crisis, Alexander's engaging narrative marries the immediacy and excitement of the final months of this historic presidential campaign with a new understanding of how politics work.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Alter
…a meticulous review of the 2008 campaign…
—The New York Times
From the Publisher
"In an extraordinary analysis of real breadth and depth, Jeffrey Alexander challenges us to re-think Barack Obama's election as president. Political observers have focused too much on the plain demographic facts of 2008, and too little about how and why those facts came to be. Reflect on the performance that takes place on a grand stage, Alexander advises, and we'll see the big picture."—Larry J. Sabato, author of The Year of Obama, and Director, Center for Politics, University of Virginia

"This is a work of dazzling brilliance and imagination. It sparkles with new insights that go well beyond standard interpretations of electoral politics. Especially to be treasured is its keen understanding of civil society and the importance of moral meaning and symbolism in public life."—Robert Wuthnow, Professor and Department Chair of Sociology, Princeton University

"Revealing himself to be de Tocqueville's true heir, Jeffrey Alexander draws a sweeping and daring portrait of the heroes, villains, fools, and mavericks who peopled the 2008 American presidential campaign. For Alexander, political elections are serious and dramatic moments of cultural meaning-making, in which the boundaries of civil society are forged and challenged. The Performance of Politics is riveting, taking the reader instantly back to those heady days of the 2008 campaign and, in the process, bringing sociological theory vividly to life."—Robin Wagner-Pacifici, Gil and Frank Mustin Professor of Sociology, Swarthmore College

"This book is a 'Making of the President 2008' with brains. The entire cast, Obama, Hillary, McCain and Palin enter this compelling narrative in the jaws of an unexpected Wall Street collapse. Uncompromisingly intelligent, yet a compulsive read."—Scott Lash, Professor and Director of Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London

"Jeffrey Alexander's intriguing argument in The Performance of Politics, a meticulous review of the 2008 campaign, is that his fellow sociologists have overemphasized impersonal social forces at the expense of the theater of public life—the way politician perform "symbolically." It's a prosaic call for a more poetic (or at least aesthetic) understanding of politics. Ideology must connect viscerally, or it doesn't connect at all. Liberalism, like any idea or product, can succeed only if it sells."The New York Times Book Review

"Representing a study of politics through a lens of cultural sociology, Alexander presents original theoretical arguments on the democratic struggle for power in America, and in the process provides a new explanation for Obama's historic victory." —Contemporary Sociology

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199926435
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

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).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface
Prologue
Part I: Power, Performance and Representation
1. Civil Sphere and Public Drama
2. Becoming a Collective Representation
3. Spirit of the Ground Game
Part II: Heroes, Binaries and Boundaries
4. Imagining Heroes
5. Working the Binaries
6. Walking the Boundaries
Part III: Victory and Defeat
7. Celebrity Metaphor
8. Palin Effect
9. Financial Crisis
Epilogue
Note on Concept and Method
Appendix
Endnotes
Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)