American Journal of Cultural Sociology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 460–480 | Cite as

Legitimacy Troubles and the Performance of Power in the 2016 US Presidential Election

  • Jason L. MastEmail author
Original Article


In this article, I pursue the themes of newness and rupture as representing manifestations of legitimacy troubles in a host of America’s political and civil spheres, and in and amongst its democratic institutions. I present findings from the literature on legitimacy that indicate, despite much commentary to the contrary, a Trump like-character is not anathema to American symbolic representations of legitimate authority. Finally, I offer a brief cultural pragmatic analysis of the election and specify what performances of national identity and claims to leadership look like under these conditions.


legitimacy performance cultural pragmatics Donald Trump elections democracy 



Shai Dromi and Anne Marie Champagne contributed mightily to managing this special issue project. Reviewers and Anne Marie helped me refine my argument. Thank you all.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Advanced StudyThe University of WarwickCoventryUK

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