American Journal of Cultural Sociology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 322–337 | Cite as

On the construction sites of history: Where did Donald Trump come from?

  • Mabel BerezinEmail author
Original Article


Donald Trump’s election has forced a collective re-evaluation of who the “ordinary citizen” or “forgotten man or woman” is. Level of education distinguished Trump voters from Clinton voters. In spring 2016, Trump exuberantly shouted, “I love the poorly educated!” The ordinary citizens who voted for Trump did not care about his well-documented outrageous statements. This article asks what made Donald Trump so attractive to the constituency of the “poorly educated”? Using a method of bricolage – the assemblage of diverse facts, slogans and visual images that dominated the electoral campaign – I develop an interpretation of Trump’s victory that is cultural and also speaks to profound structural changes that began in the United States in the 1970s. The evidence for this article comes from over 50 hours of watching Donald Trump on television – during the debates, the primary season and the election; the Republican convention and a series of speeches during the campaign season, as well as popular culture from the 1970s through the present.


materiality meritocracy Viet Nam Trump 



I am indebted to Ted Perlmutter for his assistance on matters large and small as well as his substantive insights. Ruth Milkman and Trevor Pinch provided important references. The external reviewer provided insightful comments that helped me re-think. Jeffrey Alexander and Philip Smith invited me to present this paper at the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology where I benefitted from two hours of probing commentary.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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