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date: 22 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the performative dimensions, causes, and consequences of the struggle for political power in a fragmented and differentiated society committed to democracy and regulated by open and unabashed struggles for influence and public legitimation. It begins with a review of the literature in the fields of political sociology and political science that addresses how presidents conceive of and exercise their authority and legitimacy, and particularly how presidential power is used as an exercise in communicating with the public. It then introduces a cultural pragmatic approach to analyzing democratic politics, and specifically American political campaigns and presidential elections. Cultural pragmatics is a radically new form of cultural sociology that promises to maintain the emphasis on meaning while avoiding the drawbacks of ritual theory. This approach places emphasis on character and plot development, collective representations, and pragmatic embodiment through performance.

Keywords: political power, presidents, legitimacy, presidential power, democratic politics, political campaigns, presidential elections, cultural pragmatics, cultural sociology, performance

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